The White House spokesperson doesn't know what he's talking about.
Because I've been seeing some really stupid things said about the Trillion Dollar Platinum coin idea, especially by libertarian capitalists, let me make some things really clear.
First, the coin doesn't have to be $1 trillion worth of platinum, which others have pointed out quite correctly; but also, a $1 trillion coin can be made of any metal. It can be steel. It can be the cheapest metal out there. All that would matter is the face value, the value in words: One Trillion Dollars. It could also just as easily be "Ten Trillion Dollars."
Now, many people who are floating this in lieu of Congress raising the Debt Ceiling, don't know what this is all about. The US Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, calls for the Congress to set the value of any minted coin, minted as part of the official currency of the United States. The same people needed to raise the Debt Ceiling would be required for the coin.
Here's the difference though. The Debt Ceiling is for issuing bonds to cover Federal Reserve Notes, which is debt-money. The bonds are debt at-interest. Those who invest in the bonds and cash them in at maturity, reap the interest paid by taxpayers. The $1 trillion coin would come at zero debt.
The thing to understand though is that this is all part of a broader issue that is Monetary Reform, something I've been dealing with quite a bit, time permitting.
What we really need to do is dump the entire debt-money system and go entirely to United States Money, aka United States Notes, with the Monetary Authority not being the Federal Reserve with its complex of banks charging interest/usury but rather being an opensource algorithm so that there would be no inflation or deflation and no shortage of money for public works, services, employment, etc. If done correctly, it would mean no taxes. This is what I've been pushing. We could pay off the National Debt right now while leaving absolutely no one risking poverty. In fact, we could eliminate poverty and therefore should. It's a moral obligation. Anyone who would wish selfishly to stand in the way, would simply be gone around but would still benefit beyond his or her wildest dreams, as the whole of society would prosper as never before.