In a series of events not dissimilar to the adventures of one Wile E. Coyote, Congress is running around trying to catch hold of the Road Runner, played by the debt ceiling. After the incident known as the fiscal cliff, it is surprising that Congress has not learned its lesson. Alas, we are back to square one with our new episode: The Trillion Dollar Coin.
The scene opens inside the Capitol Building, with a donkey and an elephant arguing over the best way to stop America from smashing into the debt ceiling. The donkey wants to raise the debt ceiling and the elephant wants to cut spending. Neither is willing to budge. On the other side of the room, the Road Runner laughs and darts out the door to begin the countdown to the debt ceiling crisis. The donkey and elephant sneer at each other in a manner reminiscent of one Draco Malfoy before darting off in opposite directions in pursuit of the Road Runner. An epic chase begins.
After pausing to think, the elephant darts off to his secret lab and creates a bomb. He runs back to the Capitol and declares that when the crisis comes, he will blow up the world unless he gets his way. After the evil laugh fades into the background, he places his hands behind his head and waits.
But the donkey has a secret weapon of his own! After a quick stop at the local ACME shop (also known as the U.S. Treasury), he has minted a trillion dollar coin. In platinum. The Road Runner will not be able to resist the shine of this coin. Once the Road Runner grabs the coin, a bear trap will clamp down on it and guarantee America’s fiscal security. Hiding behind a nearby rock, the donkey waits for the Road Runner to fly by with baited breath.
In the meantime, the American people slowly begin to panic as the crisis draws near and no compromise has been made. The best plan of both sides seems on par with the logic of Saturday morning cartoons. Unfortunately, it does not appear as though a masked man will swoop in to save the day. Wile E. Coyote will meet his inevitable fate. But this is not a cartoon. Congress is real, the debt ceiling is real, and the consequences of not reaching a deal before the crisis occurs will be a lot more severe than crumpling up into a small furball with oversized feet after hitting the ceiling.
Sure, no one actually minted the trillion dollar coin, but it was a serious possibility. The petition for it managed to get 2,067 signatures on the first day (Jan. 3), according to The Huffington Post. Sure, not all Republicans are for the super villain idea and sure, President Obama eventually nixed the trillion dollar coin. That doesn’t change the fact that what should have been solved by a simple compromise has devolved into two kindergartners arguing over a toy. But in this case, the toy is America’s financial security and the kindergartners are the people we chose to run our country. Did no one ever teach these Congresspeople how to share? How to compromise?
The debt ceiling is the official spending limit of our government, about $16.394 trillion. The United States officially hit the debt ceiling on Dec. 31, 2012, according to CNN. CNN states that the Treasury has managed to stall the crisis by taking “extraordinary measures” that give the government about $200 billion dollars of spending money to hopefully avert the crisis. However, no such compromise has been made because Congress is placing more importance on petty rivalries between political parties than it is coming up with a solution. Republicans demand spending cuts and will not sign off a bill unless it incorporates many cuts. Democrats want to raise the debt ceiling without spending cuts. A compromise seems impossible. Throughout this battle of wills, the American people can do nothing but watch and hope that Congress and President Obama can manage to make a deal and act like responsible adults instead of animated characters.