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Debt Ceiling Escape Hatch May Be Found In Federal Scrip Program

More financial trickery by the Dems to avoid cutting spending.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/09/debt-ceiling_n_2444...

There are no great options. Most of the ideas floated so far would either severely disrupt the public markets for Treasury debt or rely on a constitutional claim of executive authority so far-reaching that we would very likely spend the next two years locked in an impeachment fight.

Some have suggested, for instance, that the president could ignore the debt ceiling and direct the Treasury to issue more bonds to cover its obligations. But the Constitution is clear, and Mr. Obama agrees, that Congress alone has the power to authorize new borrowing.

Other supposed solutions — like the notion that the Treasury Department could create a $1 trillion dollar platinum coin and deposit it in its own account at the Federal Reserve — are even more fantastical.

However, there is a plausible course of action, one that the president should publicly adopt in the coming weeks as his contingency plan should debt-ceiling negotiations falter. He should threaten to issue scrip — “registered warrants” — to existing claims holders (other than those who own actual government debt) in lieu of money. Recipients of these I.O.U.’s could include federal employees, defense contractors, Medicare service providers, Social Security recipients and others.

The scrip would not violate the debt ceiling because it wouldn’t constitute a new borrowing of money backed by the credit of the United States. It would merely be a formal acknowledgment of a pre-existing monetary claim against the United States that the Treasury was not currently able to pay. The president could therefore establish a scrip program by executive order without piling a constitutional crisis on top of a fiscal one.



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