Shocker: Congress Has Mandated The Production Of $1 Billion In Coins Nobody Is Using
Our government is broke, but that’s not stopping them from minting coins nobody is using because members of Congress like the pretty pictures.
No, I’m not making things up about that last part. Congress mandated dollar coins into existence because they wanted to honor past Presidents, Susan B. Anthony and Sakajawea. Now the US Mint is still making them, despite the fact that they’re all just collecting in a room, because they have to get through all the Presidents. We’re currently at $1 billion in dollar coins sitting around unused, and due to Congressional mandates we’re well on our way to $2 billion.
Put simply, the government has been trying (unsuccessfully) to jam dollar coins down our throats for no other reason than they sure think it would be cool if we used dollar coins.
In 2005, Congress decided that a new series of dollar coins should be minted to engage the public. These coins would bear the likeness of every former president, starting with George Washington. There would be a new one every quarter. So, far, the Mint has produced coins through the 18th president, Ulysses S. Grant.
Members of Congress reasoned that a coin series that changed frequently and had educational appeal would make dollar coins more popular. The idea came from the successful program that put each of the 50 states on the backs of quarters.
But as the new presidential dollar coins rolled out, the greenback lost none of its dominance in Americans’ hearts and wallets.
If the mandate to make presidential coins wasn’t enough to generate a growing heap of unwanted coins, a political deal ensured that even more unwanted coins would be produced.
It was easier for the bill’s sponsor, then-Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE), to move the presidential coin bill forward if it didn’t displace other dollar coins honoring Sacagawea, the teenage Native American guide to Lewis and Clark.
The deal: The mint would be required to make a quota of Sacagawea coins. Currently, the law says 20 percent of dollar coins made must have Sacagawea on them.
So, there are now about 1.2 billion dollar-coin “assets” chilling in Federal Reserve vaults, unloved and bearing no interest. By the time the presidential coin series finishes, and there are coins honoring all past presidents, there could be 2 billion.
Former Rep. Earl Pomeroy, once a backer of this deal, has some regrets:
“I think the foolish part of the law may be not the Sacagawea part, but the fact that with no one picking up these coins, we’ve got to keep printing them because we’ve got to get through the rest of the presidents list,” says Pomeroy, who lost his bid for a 10th term in Congress last year. “That to me doesn’t seem to make any sense at all.
“Is the nation waiting with bated breath for us to get to the Calvin Coolidge coin? No! Maybe we should call a halt to this whole thing.”
What doesn’t make any sense is why Congress thought dollar coins were a good idea. Coins are kind of, well, a pain in the ass. That’s why most of us have a jar or something sitting on the dresser where we put our spare change until it can be deposited or exchanged for paper money. Coins are heavy and make a lot of noise when they’re in your pocket. Most people don’t like carrying around a lot of change, especially when paper money can be folded up and put in a wallet.
But, yet again, Big Government thinks it knows best and is willing to spend hundreds of millions on trying to make our decisions for us.Tags: Asshats, currency, Earl Pomeroy, us mint