U.S. Representative Jared Polis

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COINS Act Reforms Wasteful $1 Presidential Coin Program

Overproduction of Dollar Coins Costing Taxpayers Millions

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Washington, July 25, 2011 | comments
With cutting the federal budget deficit a top priority, Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) today introduced the Cutting Out Inefficient and Needless Spending (COINS) Act, which would reform the wasteful Presidential $1 Coin program. Congress directed the U.S. Mint in 2005 to produce dollar coins bearing the likeness of past U.S. presidents. Declining interest in the coins has led to an oversupply, which has forced Federal Reserve banks to spend $3.65 million transporting and storing unused coins. The COINS Act would reduce production of the coins until demand for them increases.

“It’s absurd that the U.S. government is spending millions sitting on these presidential dollar coins that no one wants to use—and is still cranking them out,” said Polis. “If we want to pay tribute to past presidents, we should reform the presidential coin program so that it’s not wasting our tax dollars. We shouldn’t be stealing change from the taxpayers’ pockets to pay for the wasteful presidential coin program.”

The Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005 required the Mint to begin producing $1 coins bearing the images of former presidents in the order they served in office. Since 2007, the Mint has produced four presidential coins each year. The Federal Reserve has ordered more than 2 billion coins from the Mint. At a cost of 32 cents per coin, production of the $1 Presidential coins has cost more than $640 million.

According to a June 2011 report from the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, interest in the coins has declined precipitously. As a result, excess quantities of unused coins have piled up, forcing Federal Reserve Banks to transport the coins—at a cost of over $3 million—to a new $650,000 storage facility, which was built at taxpayer expense. The facility will store over $1.2 billion in $1 coins, an increase of $1.1 billion since the start of the presidential coin program.

To address the issue of excess supply while continuing to honor our former presidents as Congress intended, the COINS Act would instruct the Treasury Secretary to suspend issuance of the coins when there is a surplus exceeding circulation needs for one year. It would also eliminate the requirement that all new coins receive a mandatory introductory period during which all Federal Reserve banks must purchase new coins, regardless of whether they already have an excess supply. This would be in line with other commemorative coin programs that ensure availability without mandating excess production.
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