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Federal Eye
Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 12/15/2011

Groups pans Obama’s plan to scrap $1 coins


Mass production of presidential $1 coins will be suspended by the Treasury Department. (Brian Kersey - AP)
President Obama should keep making $1 coins that will one day bear his face and eliminate the paper dollar instead, a coalition of labor, transit and good government groups said Wednesday.

Eye Opener

The Dollar Coin Alliance argues that the production of $1 coins generates hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue annually for the U.S. government and that the Obama administration is making a transparent political push to curtail coin production in favor of paper currency.

The Treasury Department on Tuesday announced plans to suspend the mass production of commemorative $1 coins with the faces of deceased U.S. presidents, arguing that the coins are unpopular and that suspending their production for general circulation would save $50 million annually. The announcement was part of a White House effort to curtail what it perceives as wasteful government spending.

But there's nothing wasteful about dollar coins, said Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, a member of the coin alliance that has long pushed for the elimination of paper $1 bills.

“If the administration really wants to save taxpayers money, they’ll heed the advice of the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office, which has been advocating the elimination of the $1 note for 20 years,” Schatz said.

In its most recent report, GAO concluded that transitioning $1 notes to coins could save $184 million annually and $5.5 billion over 30 years.

“The Federal Reserve and Treasury Department want to go back to business as usual, protecting the out-of-date $1 bill, a pet government program that costs taxpayers billions,” Schatz charged.

But $1.4 billion in unused $1 coins currently sit dormant in Federal Reserve vaults due to lack of demand, according to Treasury Department spokesman Matt Anderson. Anderson said that the department appreciates the GAO’s efforts, but that Congress ultimately must vote on whether to eliminate paper currency.

Several legislative attempts over the years to eliminate paper dollars and switch to coins have failed to advance.

In addition to CAGW, the Dollar Coin Alliance includes merchandising, mining, brass and copper industry groups, the Philadelphia public transit system and the United Steelworkers.

A similar White House announcement last month irked other business associations. Aviation and a promotional products industry group complained that orders to cut 20 percent of federal agency spending on travel, technology and promotional materials — or “swag” — could adversely affect small businesses and workers.

What do you think? Would you be OK with the total elimination of the $1 bill? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

Further reading:

Government to stop making some money to save money

The Sultan of Swag knocks Obama’s plan

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By  |  06:00 AM ET, 12/15/2011

Categories:  Eye Opener, Budget

 
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