Printing money is a costly enterprise for the federal government, but experience says that Americans are just fine with the wasted expense. Otherwise, we all would be jingling Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea coins in our pockets.
The experience with those two previous experiments on behalf of the $1 coin says that the latest bipartisan attempt to revive the idea faces serious impediments, to say the least. Even so, it makes indisputable financial sense.
In its latest report on federal cost-cutting ideas, the Government Accountability Office estimated savings of $5.5 billion over 30 years with a dollar coin. It was the fifth GAO recommendation on behalf of such a coin over the past 20 years.
According to the GAO report, a $1 coin can remain in circulation for more than 30 years and can obviate the need to print 17 dollar bills during that time.
The Dollar Coin Alliance cites a 2011 poll concluding that Americans will support the transition to a dollar coin if the potential savings are explained.
Apparently the alliance, a coalition of business interests and fiscal hawks, still has a lot of explaining to do.
Since the end of the general-circulation silver dollar in 1935 there has been virtually no public enthusiasm for a return to the one dollar coin. The substantial federal reserves of Sacagawea coins prove it.
The Obama administration announced in December that $1 presidential coins would no longer be minted, citing a lack of interest and short-term savings.
“We simply shouldn’t be wasting taxpayer money on money that taxpayers aren’t using,” Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said.
Seldom has Mr. Geithner spoken so cogently.
Nevertheless, a bipartisan group of senators has rolled out the fiscally promising idea again. They include John McCain, R-Ariz., Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Tom Coburn, R-Okla.
“With our nation’s debt now over $15 trillion, Congress must look at every area of the federal government, big or small, to save money,” Sen. McCain said. “By moving from the costly dollar bill to the dollar coin, we can save real money and show the American taxpayer that we are serious about cutting spending in Washington.”
They even have the support of the Citizens Against Government Waste, which seldom finds much to applaud on Capitol Hill.
Those who have rationally examined the issue agree that the $1 coin is the money of the future.
Unfortunately, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that it always will be.