NPR reports that a Congressional mandate to manufacture dollar coins has produced $1.2 billion of unwanted Sacagaweas, Susan B. Anthonys, and former Presidents. It costs $300 million a year to make them and the program does not end until the year 2016. By that time, there could be $2 billion of them languishing under Bernanke’s feet.
It all started in 2005, when Delaware Republican Mike Castle sponsored a bill that was meant to encourage Americans to use dollar coins in their every day transactions. Congress had attempted to do this twice before, but they thought that this time if the coins bared the likeness of every U.S. President, Americans would enjoy collecting them (along with their Sacagaweas, of course).
Since then, a new coin with a new President on it has been released every quarter- starting, naturally, with George Washington. We are now up to the 18th President Ulysses S. Grant, and Americans still have no interest in letting go of their greenbacks.
The Federal Reserve is aware of that too. In a report about the program filed to Congress last year they said banks were sending the coins back in droves and that the program had…
“…no perceivable benefit to the taxpayer… We have no reason to expect demand to improve…We also note that a 2008 Harris poll found that more than three fourths of people questioned continue to prefer the $1 note.”
There is some debate as to whether or not using coins actually saves money. They last longer, but cost more to manufacture. What is certain is that the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee has jurisdiction over this program, and its ranking member Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) would not agree to comment on this story.
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