OLC Memo on Trillion Dollar Platinum Coin and 14th Amendment Debt Ceiling Fix

December 3rd, 2013

Ryan Reilly reports at HuffPo that the Office of Legal Counsel prepared a memo on whether the President could issue a trillion dollar platinum coin to avoid the debt ceiling.

The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which functions as a sort of law firm for the president and provides him and executive branch agencies with authoritative legal advice, formally weighed in on the platinum coin option sometime since Obama took office, according to OLC’s recent response to HuffPost’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. While the letter acknowledged the existence of memos on the platinum coin option, OLC officials determined they were “not appropriate for discretionary release.”

HuffPost submitted the FOIA request when there was increased speculation about the use of the platinum coin option ahead of the debt ceiling crisis this fall. Under the compromise reached between the House and Senate following the government shutdown, the U.S. will hit the debt ceiling once again on Feb. 7, though the Treasury can use extraordinary measures to extend that deadline.

OLC also weighed in on whether the President could ignore the debt ceiling under the 14th Amendment.

The administration previously stated that both the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve did not believe that manufacturing a platinum coin could or should be used as a way to avoid raising the debt ceiling. The OLC has also weighed in on whether the 14th Amendment allows the president to ignore the debt ceiling, but the Justice Department has also declined to make any memos on that topic public.

One day, hopefully, we will see these memos.