The Secretary may mint and issue platinum bullion coins and proof platinum coins in accordance with such specifications, designs, varieties, quantities, denominations, and inscriptions as the Secretary, in the Secretary’s discretion, may prescribe from time to time.
That's from 31 USC § 5112 — Denominations, specifications, and design of coins, which you can read in its entirety here. So there's no doubt that Tim Geithner or Jack Lew. once he replaces Timmy, can just say "Mint it." By the way, in case you're wondering whose face should go on the coin, Paul Krugman has a great idea. Use John Boehner, Why?
Because without him and his colleagues, this wouldn’t be necessary.
Click here for a photo of what the Boehner coin might look like. Plus a few other possibilities.
What befalls the Republican Party? Does anyone care? The GOP is no longer a majority party and it is best for conflicting factions to part ways. Not that we should expect any changes that will make for a healthy democracy.
Republicans could not protect the likes of George Clooney and Sarah Jessica Parker from higher taxes after all.
Two of the wealthiest Americans from two of the wealthiest states who hosted celebrity fundraisers for President Obama's re-election surely had no idea that their candidate planned all along to boost their taxes.
Or maybe the tax issue was a sham all along reflecting the end of the line for the Republican Party as a majority party. Until Tuesday night, Jan. 1, Republicans in Congress habitually refused to raise taxes on the rich for absolutely no discernable reason.
US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu are both in the midst of fruitless negotiations for basically the same reason.
Obama is negotiating with Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff while Netanyahu is negotiating with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
The President offered Boehner huge concessions reducing stimulus spending from $425B to $175B, abandoning extension of the payroll tax holiday and slashing entitlement spending (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid) by $725B in order to obtain a modest 2% increase in taxes for the wealthiest 0.7% of Americans which he could have obtained automatically simply by waiting for New Year's. Boehner and Obama seemed close to an agreement and much was made of the fact that neither was willing to bridge the (relatively) small gap that remained between them.
However, in the end the inability to come to agreement with Boehner was probably irrelevant since Obama was negotiating with someone who did not have to power to deliver the votes. Boehner was unable to get enough votes to pass his own so-called "Plan B" which would have raised taxes on the poorest Americans by up to $1500 by eliminating the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit while simultaneously permitting tax rates to rise for 400,000 extremely wealthy families. Boehner's failure Thursday night to win support for his plan from the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party forced him to shutter Congress for the holidays without avoiding the "fiscal cliff."
Similarly, one Israeli government after another is having difficulty bringing Abbas to the negotiating table let alone coming to a peace agreement with him despite a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, economic support for the Palestinian Authority and other concessions. However, this failure is almost irrelevant since the Palestinian Authority is not really controlled by its nominal figurehead Abbas in Ramallah, but rather by Hamas in Gaza.
So why does Netanyahu waste his time talking to Abbas when it is clear that the leadership of Hamas holds all the cards?
The problem is that Hamas is a terrorist organization which by its very charter defines itself as devoted to the complete destruction of the State of Israel. By choosing essentially civilian targets and terror tactics, Hamas holds itself outside the rules of conventional warfare and maintains its status as a pariah organization with whom negotiation is anathema.
Similarly, the Tea Party has shown itself time and time again willing to hold the economy of the country hostage to its own interests. The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution says that our national debt "shall not be questioned." Unlike Greece, our debt is in our own sovereign currency. If worse came to worst, our lenders should know that we can always simply print what we owe them, so they could consider United States Bonds to be completely risk-free and charge us the lowest rate available. However, by playing a game of "chicken" with the debt ceiling, the Tea Party puts the entire solvency of our country needlessly into doubt.
Now with the fiscal cliff, Grover Norquist and his Tea Party allies are unwilling to bend on the smallest tax increase for the wealthiest Americans in order to avoid across the board tax increases and automatic budget cuts will would certainly put our economic recover into jeopardy.
Since Netanyahu and Obama's real opponents (Hamas and the Tea Party) are intractable ideologues with whom there is no hope of negotiating, Netanyahu and Obama persist in hoping that negotiating with figureheads (Abbas and Boehner) will give their negotiating partners the "street-cred" necessary to make a deal.
Last week, Americans voted not just for President but also for their Representatives and Senators. Results were mixed. In the Presidential election, Obama edged out Romney in both the Electoral College (332 to 206) and in the popular vote (51% to 48%). In the Senate, Democrats overcame all odds and not only held onto but actually expanded their majority. However, in the House of Representatives, Democrats only picked up 4-8 seats out of the 25 seats they needed to retake control of the House. (Four seats remain undecided: AZ-2, CA-7, CA-52 and LA-2.)
Speaker of the House John Boehner (OH-2) took solace in keeping the House. "We'll have as much of a mandate as he [President Obama] will to not raise taxes."
How is that the same electorate shows up at the polls and hands victories to the GOP in the House and to Obama and the Democrats in the Senate?
In fact, Boehner is wrong. There was no mandate for the Republicans to keep control of the House. In fact, a majority of Americans voted for a Democrat to represent them in the House of Representatives. According to Dan Keating at the Washington Post:
Democratic candidates for the House got 54,301,095 votes (48.8%) while
Republican candidates for the House got 53,822,442 votes (48.5%).
But if that is the case, why did more Republicans get elected than Democrats?
What saved Boehner's majority wasn't the will of the people but the power of redistricting. As my colleague Dylan Matthews showed, Republicans used their control over the redistricting process to great effect, packing Democrats into tighter and tighter districts and managing to restructure races so even a slight loss for Republicans in the popular vote still meant a healthy majority in the House.
In most states where Republicans controlled redistricting, the Democrats' share of House seats was far beneath their share of the presidential vote. (Dylan Matthews)
That's a neat trick, but it's not a popular mandate, or anything near to it - and Boehner knows it. That's why his first move after the election was to announce, in a vague-but-important statement, that he was open to some kind of compromise on taxes.
For example, here in Pennsylvania, the Republicans control the Governor's mansion, the State House and the State Senate, and they used their control to gerrymander the state so that while the Democrats got a majority of the votes (53%) they only took 5 out of 18 seats (28%). They do so by packing Democratic super-majorities into a few districts. Brady won PA-1 with 85.0% of the vote, and Fattah won PA-2 with 89.4%. These huge margins represent wasted votes that potentially could have elected additional Democrats had the districts been drawn differently.
The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) today slammed the House Republican Caucus for continuing their quixotic campaign to repeal the Affordable Care Act — the same bill supported by the vast majority of American Jews and deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court. NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris said:
This effort — the 31st such vote by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives — proves once again that Republicans like House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) care significantly more about politics than policy, as this effort will simply not succeed. The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, has been found constitutional by the Supreme Court and will provide life-saving health insurance to millions of Americans. Sadly, House Republicans would rather waste time with one more unnecessary vote than focus on working to further improve on health care reform or focusing on job creation. Most Jewish Americans — along with countless others — supported Obamacare and millions of Americans will benefit from the legislation as it is implemented. It is way past time for Republicans to cease tilting at windmills and quit playing politics with Americans' health insurance.
You are the most vile, unprofessional and despicable member of the U.S. House of Representatives
— Allen West's belated Valentine's Day message to colleague Debbie Wasserman-Schultz
To revive the economy, a majority of the House slashed $126 million during February 2011 from the National Weather Service, the agency which operates the Pacific Tsunami Warming Center in Hawaii, which in turn issued warnings minutes after the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan.
"The nation is in an historic fiscal crisis, and it is imperative that the Congress roll back spending in virtually every area — including NOAA — so that we can help our economy (get) back on track," explained Jennifer Hing, GOP congressional spokeswoman
Tea partiers ignored safety concerns when they eliminated $61 billion in expenses. The House passed a bill slashing $61 billion, but the Democratic-controlled Senate disregarded the legislation.
2011 "Values Voter" Summit Schedule Featuring GOP Presidential Candidates To Conflict Yet Again with the Jewish High Holidays
The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) today criticized the 2011 Values Voter Summit in part because — for the third consecutive year* — the conservative conference coincides with the Jewish High Holidays. The 2011 Values Voter Summit, which will feature a majority of the Republican presidential candidates, perfectly symbolizes how the modern conservative movement does not include Jewish values under its umbrella. This year, the conference occurs on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.
The United State and Denmark are the only countries in the World that have an official debt ceiling. In most countries, once the Legislature establishes a budget authorizing certain expenses and establishing a tax policy, simple arithmetic indicates how the Legislature's decisions will increase or decrease that countries debt.
Only Denmark has a system similar to the United States where the legislature has to approve increases to the debt separately from approving the budget. The Danish set the ceiling high enough so that it never slows the process of borrowing money and they can avoid political conflicts like the one currently gripping the U.S.
Barry Bosworth, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, said the U.S. debt ceiling "has no logical basis."
Congress, through budget and appropriations bills, has sole authority to decide how much the government will spend, so he said "it makes no sense to have a secondary rule to then object to the deficit that emerges from the other decisions." (ABC News)
Perhaps Congress should have sought additional revenues by — for example — allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire, or by taxing the income of hedge fund managers and corporations the same way they tax the income of working Americans.
Perhaps Congress should have decreased expenses by — for example — pulling out of Afghanistan or switching to a single-payer health insurance system and empowering it to negotiate with pharmaceuticals for the best possible rates.
However, having not done so, Congress has caused that the national debt to increase, and failing to honor the resulting commitments is irresponsible and probably an unconstitutional violation of Section 4 of the 14th amendment.
The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.
The Tea Party often uses the household budget as a model for the U.S. budget. However, suppose my wife and I decided to work in jobs earning a total of $50,000, and we decided to make purchases totaling $100,000. Eventually, the credit card bill arrives and showing an increase in debt as a direct consequence of the choices I made. Do I have the right to impose a "debt ceiling" and refuse to recognize the debt I have incurred about this arbitrary limit?
And surely the United States Congress does not have the right to hold the "full faith and credit" of the United States hostage to their political agenda.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina: "It should have some spending cuts as a down payment on controlling the size of our federal government."
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Richmond, Virginia: "We've had to bring this president kicking and screaming to the table to cut spending."
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio: "It's time for us to get serious about how we're spending the nation's money."
These Republicans, along with others in Congress and statehouses like Trenton and Madison, demand smaller government and lower spending, yet they have not complained about the federal government's aid to the Republican-dominated Southern states ravaged by storms and tornadoes that left 350 people dead.
House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) on Wednesday backtracked from remarks he made Sunday suggesting he would support extending the Bush tax cuts only for households with incomes below $250,000 a year, as President Obama has proposed.
At a news conference on Capitol Hill, Boehner repeatedly emphasized that he would support only legislation that kept in place all of the tax cuts. He sidestepped questions about how he and Republicans would vote if Democrats insisted on pushing through a measure that ends the tax cut on household incomes of more than $250,000 a year. Tax cuts for all incomes that passed in 2001 and 2003 under President George W. Bush are due to expire at the end of this year.
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