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U.S. Mint to stop making presidential $1 coins to save taxpayer money

December 13, 2011 | 11:51 am

Washington $1 coin
Washington has hit on a new way to save taxpayer money -- stop making some of it.

The U.S. Mint said Tuesday it will stop producing $1 presidential coins for public circulation because there are plenty of them already and the move will save $50 million a year.

There are 1.4 billion surplus dollar coins in the vaults of Federal Reserve Bank vaults, because the demand for each new coin drops significantly after it is introduced and financial institutions ultimately return about 40% of them, said Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal. S. Wolin.

That's enough coins to meet the current circulation demand for more than a decade, he said.

"Minting $1 coins that ultimately end up sitting in Federal Reserve Bank vaults –- and serve no useful purpose for businesses, financial institutions, and consumers -– is simply not a prudent use of taxpayer resources," Wolin said.

In 2005, Congress passed the Presidential $1 Coin Act mandating that the U.S. Mint issue four new presidential coins each year from 2007 to 2016. The coins began with George Washington, and ultimately there will be a coin for every deceased president, but they haven't proved to be much more successful than earlier attempts to establish the $1 coin.

The U.S. Mint will continue to produce the coins, as required by law, but they will not be put into circulation. Collectors and others who want to obtain them will be able to do so directly from the U.S. Mint during specific periods.

The next coin in the series, for Chester A. Arthur, will be released in the spring, and the number produced will be set based on collector demand.

Wolin said the decision to suspend production of the coins for public circulation was part of President Obama's effort to cut government waste.

Some members of Congress have questioned the cost of the program in an era of soaring budget deficits, and legislation has been introduced to suspend the program.

Ironically, other lawmakers have suggested that the $1 coins could be a way to save taxpayer money because they last much longer than paper dollar bills -- 30 years compared with 18 to 40 months for the old-fashioned greenback. A group called the Dollar Coin Alliance formed to advocate phasing out paper dollars and replacing them with coins.


Series aims to end $1-coin curse

Andrew Johnson gets his own $1 coin

Replace the dollar bill with a $1 coin, lawmakers propose

-- Jim Puzzanghera in Washington

Photo: The George Washington $1 coin. Credit: Associated Press