We all know that The Simpsons is genius. But who knew that the show that gestated on the comic-strip pages of L.A. alternative media could one day help save America?
If New York Times columnist Paul Krugman's suggestion that the Obama administration actually mint a $1 trillion platinum coin comes to fruition, you might have to credit The Simpsons for at least some of the inspiration.
You see, there was this one episode …
… in which a $1 trillion dollar bill from the postwar years had gone missing. It was Homer Simpson's mission to find it.
The bill — imprinted with Harry Truman's photo — was intended to help rebuild Europe but went missing after industrialist Montgomery Burns was trusted to take it to the continent. The caper ultimately ends with Fidel Castro five-fingering the precious paper.
The show wasn't about the debt ceiling, but it does make light of the audacity of a country with such economic power.
As Republicans in congress indicate they'll hold the nation's debt ceiling (and thus federal paychecks, military spending, entitlements, etc.) hostage over spending cuts, Krugman is encourage a workaround:
There's a legal loophole allowing the Treasury to mint platinum coins in any denomination the secretary chooses. Yes, it was intended to allow commemorative collector's items — but that's not what the letter of the law says. And by minting a $1 trillion coin, then depositing it at the Fed, the Treasury could acquire enough cash to sidestep the debt ceiling — while doing no economic harm at all.
Mr. Burns, clearly a Republican, wouldn't be happy (unless, of course, the bill ended up in his pocket).