Five Best Thursday Columns
Amy Davidson on the platinum coin, Edward Kleinbard on Obama's plan B for the debt ceiling, Ezra Klein on Joe Biden in 2016, Meghan Daum on Hillary Clinton in 2016, and Liel Leibovitz on violent video games.
Amy Davidson in The New Yorker on the platinum coin While Congressional Republicans fret about Obama's spending sinking the Titanic, Amy Davidson has been listening to economists who say that minting a trillion dollar coin might actually help avert sending the nation into default. She's not so sure Obama should go through with it yet, but she abhors the alternative: "The coin is clever and intellectually interesting. That does not make it a good idea," Davidson writes. "The debt ceiling is a bad idea without being clever at all. A saner approach might be to ask how Congress expects to pass laws that mandate spending while keeping taxes low, and still have a debt-ceiling statute that makes doing so impossible."
Edward Kleinbard in The New York Times on Obama's plan B for the debt ceiling The platinum coin isn't the only way for Obama to avert the debt ceiling crisis without involving Congress, argues Edward Kleinbard. "He should threaten to issue scrip — 'registered warrants'—to existing claims holders (other than those who own actual government debt) in lieu of money," he writes. "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."
Ezra Klein in Bloomberg View on Joe Biden Uncle Joe has been the butt of plenty of jokes (some featured on this very site). But the vice president has been getting things done lately, Ezra Klein notes. So maybe we shouldn't take a Biden 2016 presidential campaign as a joke: "Just a few days before he was giving dating advice on C-SPAN2, Biden again proved himself perhaps the most effective member of the Obama administration," Klein writes in reference to Biden's fiscal deal negotiating. "So don’t laugh when you hear that Biden wants to run for president. Biden is one of the most successful vice presidents in history, and one of the most successful politicians of a very difficult era. He may sometimes make himself a punch line, but he has the record of a heavyweight."
Meghan Daum in the Los Angeles Times on Hillary Clinton But should Biden win the presidency, there will be lots of distraught Hillary supporters. "Clinton's fans are even now closing their eyes and imagining her in the Oval Office," writes Meghan Daum. "And the idea that she may never get there — by choice, defeat or some kind of health or personal circumstance — remains unthinkable, even devastating. To put another woman in the job, even one that might better uphold the liberal principles that made Clinton's supporters love her in the first place (someone like, say, Elizabeth Warren), would be a kind of betrayal, not to mention a long shot."
Liel Leibovitz in The New Republic on violent video games A Connecticut town just 30 miles past Newtown is urging gamers to return their bloodiest titles in a "Violent Video Games Return Program." But Liel Leibovitz argues that blaming virtual games for real-world violence misses the point. "The fear directed at video games," Leibovitz writes, "is as understandable as it is misguided and, ultimately, futile. Kids who play violent video games, and increasingly do so with strangers from around the world, are not doing anything fundamentally different than what previous generations have done, when sticks served as swords or hands as pistols ... By confiscating and burning their games, parents risk extinguishing a critical outlet—and creating the very problem they were trying to avoid."