The economics of such a move would work fine, and I understand the game-theoretic rationale, but still I agree (strongly) with Kevin Drum’s “no” answer. I don’t know if the courts would uphold such a move, but I do know they would not uphold such a move instantaneously. The uncertainty would in the meantime whipsaw and shut down the markets and the shadow banking system.
And let’s say that — somehow — the whole thing miraculously worked out well from start to finish. The testier Republicans would in fact get exactly what they want. They would receive isolation from any negative consequences from brinksmanship, and a new narrative about how President Obama is a fascist incarnate. Keep in mind that since the coin would bear the sparkling image of Sayyid Qutb, there are even some members of the American electorate who would find such charges plausible.
This is a bad idea, and Obama has been wise to try to take it off the table from the get go. He knows that Congress actually needs to sign off on a solution, as indeed they have twice in the last year. It also confirms Paul Krugman’s view that he would not in fact make a good Secretary of the Treasury.
Addendum: Felix Salmon has good comments.