Remember this morning when I suggested the latest debt-ceiling crisis is affected by Republicans who are confused about the basics? The National Republican Campaign Committee is helping reinforce the thesis.
This morning, the NRCC argued, apparently in all seriousness, “The amount of platinum needed to mint a coin worth $1 trillion would sink the Titanic.” To help drive home the point, the campaign committee even created an image of a President Obama platinum coin weighing down the Titanic.
Making matters slightly worse, the NRCC says the coin would “pay for [Obama’s] spending,” which suggests Republicans still don’t understand that the White House cannot legally spend money that hasn’t already been approved by Congress.
But even putting that aside, the problem with the image and initial argument is that the NRCC appears to have forgotten how money works. A $20 bill does not have $20 worth of paper. Indeed, the paper and fibers that go into a $50 bill do not have five times the value of a $10 bill. And as such, a $1 trillion coin would not need $1 trillion worth of platinum.
Maybe you think the coin idea is sensible; maybe you think it’s ridiculous. Either way, the conversation would be more productive if Republicans who support holding the nation hostage brushed up on the introductory facts. As Jamison Foser joked, “The NRCC reminds me of old Letterman joke about offering Dan Quayle two fives for one twenty.”
The value of the materials that go into American currency is unrelated to the monetary value the government assigns to the currency itself. Does the NRCC think a nickel is worth more than dime because the latter is physically smaller and lighter? When we print $10,000 bills, do they assume we use really expensive paper?
It’s not at all reassuring that the NRCC finds this confusing.