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GOP lawmaker proposes ban on trillion dollar coin

Amid a smattering of calls for President Obama to skirt a looming debt ceiling fight by minting a couple of trillion-dollar coins, one Republican lawmaker says he's introducing a bill to make sure it doesn't happen.

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., announced today that he plans to introduce a bill that would make it illegal to mint high-value platinum coins as a means to paying down government debt.

"Some people are in denial about the need to reduce spending and balance the budget. This scheme to mint trillion dollar platinum coins is absurd and dangerous, and would be laughable if the proponents weren't so serious about it as a solution. I'm introducing a bill to stop it in its tracks," he said in a statement. "My bill will take the coin scheme off the table by disallowing the Treasury to mint platinum coins as a way to pay down the debt. We must reduce spending and get our fiscal house in order."

Despite some recent talk of such a proposal, which is possible through a legal loophole that allows the Treasury to mint platinum coins in any denomination the secretary likes, it's unlikely Mr. Obama would move risk the political consequences that would go hand-in-hand with such a plan. But renewed calls by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who published an op-ed today entitled "Be Ready To Mint That Coin," seems to have reignited discussion about the discussion.

Krugman argues that minting the coin is an option that's "silly but benign," while the alternative -- another protracted fight over raising the debt limit -- would be "equally silly but both vile and disastrous."

"The decision should be obvious," he writes.

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