Inside the Beltway: The trillion-dollar coin

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The White House had better snap up one of these quick: American Mint has just issued the “$1 Trillion Coin,” a gleaming, platinum-plated collector’s coin that shows what the legendary, imaginary trillion-dollar coin could look like. There’s an image of the U.S. Capitol’s “Freedom” statue on the front, and “one trillion dollars” and “no legal tender” on back. And to the inevitable delight of both President Obama and the Republican Congress, this version is only $9.95.

“It’s a great way to commemorate this challenging moment in history,” says Kevin Sacher, president of the Pennsylvania-based company.

The challenging moment, of course, is the nation’s $16 trillion debt, ramped up by recent jaunty suggestions by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and an assortment of officials that the U.S. Treasury issue a $1 trillion coin to “sidestep the debt ceiling,” and somehow avoid defaulting on the behemoth debt. Yes, somehow. Well, at least everyone can have a reasonable facsimile of such a potent chunk of change. See it here: Americanmint.com

A BILLION HERE, A BILLION THERE

Even as President Obama makes dire predictions about the looming sequester, there are practical lawmakers with gumption and numbers who warn about inane spending. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is just such a guy. The Virginia Republican has released a no-frills recap of the grievous spending of taxpayer money which clearly comes under the “read it and weep” category:

• $1.7 billion: amount spent on maintenance for unused federal property around the nation.

• $115 billion: amount spent on “improper payments” of benefits to people not entitled to them.

• $1.6 billion: amount spent on free public cellphones in 2012.

• $100 million: amount spent in Environmental Protection Agency grants to foreign countries.

• $51.6 million: the amount the federal government spent last year promoting Obamacare and paying public relations firms.

• $4 million: Amount spent each year for a TV production studio at the Internal Revenue Service.

• $1.2 million: Amount spent by the a National Science Foundation study to teach senior citizens to play “World of Warcraft,” a video game.

“As Sen. Everett Dirksen once reportedly said, ‘A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon, you’re talking real money,’ or as President Obama once told me, ‘There’s nothing too crazy in here.’ So rather than calling for tax hikes, again, or cut back any needed government services, the president and Senate Democrats should get to work and embrace some or all of these sensible spending cuts and find common ground,” Mr. Cantor says in summation.

THE ‘SCARE’ BLAME

There’s always a gassed up blame vehicle parked in the White House garage these days. A blame vehicle? But of course. It’s any vexing problem that President Obama can conveniently blame on Republicans, painting the party as heartless, clueless and uncooperative. The press and even some pollsters are only too happy to go for a spin.

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