Let’s stop making these $1 presidential coins shall we?

Have you ever even seen one of the Presidential coins? I have not, and the federal government has enough of them lying around to fill a vault the size of a soccer field. Nobody wants them. Stop making them.

Nobody seems interested in these coins at all, yet they keep making them.

Unused dollar coins have been quietly piling up in Federal Reserve vaults in breathtaking numbers, thanks to a government program that has required their production since 2007.

And even though the neglected mountain of money recently grew past the $1 billion mark, the U.S. Mint will keep making more and more of the coins under a congressional mandate.

The coins themselves – sitting uncirculated in a vault – are really not part of the money supply so it’s not like the cash can be used to pay off any bills until the public starts asking for them and they are put into circulation. That said, the $1 coins cost the government .30 cents to make. So far that’s $300 million in government waste mandated by Congress.

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.

So you’ve go 26 more presidents to go? Assuming they are making about $50 million for each president, that means they are still planning to create another $1.35 billion in coins at a cost of $405 million.

Those coins – just like the others – will sit in a vault somewhere for years.

This government program’s grand plan is to change the money culture here in the United States. (Get it ūüėČ It’s damn hard to change any sort of culture whether in business or in government. Some advocates of the $1 coins – including all of those¬†Susan B. Anthonys out there – think the government should just pull paper dollars from circulation.

Leslie Paige, who represents watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste, says the government should withdraw the dollar bill from the market and force Americans to use the coins.

“I think Americans will definitely embrace the dollar coin if they’re just given the opportunity,” she says.

Read her statement again. She works for a watchdog group against government waste? She thinks we’ll “embrace” the coins if just given the¬†opportunity? … By taking away any choice we have in the matter.

Paige wins the prize for “strange statement of the week.”

Look, the point here is supply outweighs demand for these coins right now, and just like the housing market, you’d be a fool to build more new houses in an area if you’ve already got a bunch in the same neighborhood that nobody is buying. If the demand increases and the inventory of coins sitting in storage begins to drop, then – and only then – should the government even consider making more coins.

Not surprisingly, nobody from Congress wanted to discuss the matter with¬†NPR’s Planet Money and Investigations teams who wrote the story. Do head over to NPR’s site and read the full article.

Posted in

Steve McGough

Steve's a part-time conservative blogger. Steve grew up in Connecticut and has lived in Washington, D.C. and the Bahamas. He resides in Connecticut, where he’s comfortable six months of the year.


  1. Jeff S on June 29, 2011 at 9:52 am

    The only way, I see?to get these coins?into general use is to stop producing the $1 bill.? As long as the paper bill is available, the folks?won’t use the coin.

  2. sammy22 on June 29, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    If vending machines took $ coins instead of paper $, it would help. But guess who is opposing such a switch. And check out the cent: it costs more to produce it than it’s worth.

    • Steve M on June 29, 2011 at 1:32 pm

      But the vending machines I’m familiar with do take $1 coins. Are you suggesting they be mandated to stop taking paper money? People carry dollar bills, they don’t carry dollar coins – hence the vending machine lobby certainly would be against that move, and rightly so.

  3. Edmondo on June 29, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    They should get rid of the paper dollar. ?And while they’re at it… get rid of the penny, nickel and quarter. ?It’s?amazing?that we still use the same denominations of money that our great grandparents used, when they made $7 a week. ?

    Make the $5 bill the lowest paper denomination. ?Make a $2 coin, a $1 coin, a 50 cent piece and keep the dimes. ?Make all prices count to only one place past the decimal point. ?

    Let’s join the 21st Century and get rid of all this useless change.

  4. Steve M on June 29, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    @Edmondo – I assume you are being sarcastic. If not, I’d like to suggest all of the “useless change” you might get in future transactions be automatically forwarded to my PayPal account. Can you imagine the uproar concerning who gets to “keep the change” on a $1.61 transaction when the patron pays with two, $1 coins?

  5. Tim-in-Alabama on June 29, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    Steve, I didn’t realize they were minting these coins in such numbers. They would make more sense as limited run collector’s sets. I really enjoyed the state quarter program until my state’s quarter came out with a deaf-mute-blind Commie in a rocking chair. There were some good looking coins in the state set, plus those not being collected by individuals remain in normal use. The same can be said for the Lewis & Clark nickels and some of the other commemorate coins in practical denominations. Perhaps they can put the bags of unwanted dollars to a practical use, like shoring up the levees in all these areas being hit by floods.

  6. Tim-in-Alabama on June 29, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    Commemorate. lol Commemorative coins.

  7. sammy22 on June 29, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    Edmondo gets it. But then it does not surprise me that he was “struck” down. By all means lets’ keep the penny et al, and mint coins whose cost exceeds the face value.

  8. Steve M on June 29, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    So Edmondo put out what really is an absurd suggestion (getting rid of quarters, dimes, nickles and pennies) … I note it would cause all sorts of?unnecessary?issues with who gets to keep what when it comes to “useless change” and I “struck” him down? You’re delusional, and I really do think Edmondo was being sarcastic.

  9. sammy22 on June 29, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    Well, have it your way. BTW, the rest of the world has dealt w/ this kind of issue many times, and solved it. Even good old England went off the old shilling et al. Not too delusional, I would say. BTW, Edmondo said he’d keep the dime.

  10. Plainvillian on June 29, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    Has anyone considered the horror of government mint employees put of a job if these coins are not struck?? Think of the women, children and minorities who would suffer!? Only a misogynist xenophobic pedophile predator would suggest ending this program.
    I propose a $3 coin commemorating great vice presidents who never became presidents, starting with Aaron Burr, proceeding through Hubert Humphrey, Nelson Rockefeller, Spiro Agnew, and of course Joey “Plugs” Biden.? Then we can have a new coin, the halfpenny, for? Speakers of the House or celebrity House members like Anthony Weiner.
    We could go on to a whole new industry with ever more government jobs.? Senator For Life Blumenthal is just the guy to get it started.

  11. winnie888 on June 30, 2011 at 7:09 am

    Look, my purse is heavy enough as it is…I save literally ALL of my change so I can mete it out to the kids for school beverages, and for some weird reason, it’s a (Chris Matthews?) thrill when I have exact change for a transaction? (yes, I know:? I need to get out more).
    My other half absconds with any coin that I haven’t scooped up and uses it for the coffee vending machine at work (yuck).
    What about when you go to a car wash and you change a five (because that’s all you have on you) and you get back $5 in one dollar coins?? The vacuums will NOT take standard coinage.? And has anyone else had to explain to? a cashier that it is real U.S. money?? I’ve been looked at like a criminal in the past when using them.
    Haven’t we had quite enough *change* since 2008 to last us a lifetime?? It’s an asinine program that should be ended.? As far as revamping our money culture, how about we get the dollar to be worth something before spending money on adding pretty colors to it?

  12. ricbee on June 30, 2011 at 8:03 am

    I saw my first one just the other day so a few have leaked out. USPS stamp machines were(I think they are no more) giving dollar coins as change. Apparently this is to be a great saving for the US mint. I see no great inconvenience or real big government problem here. The UK & Canada did it without fanfare. Let’s not pick a fight that has no winner.

  13. Law-AbidingCitizen on June 30, 2011 at 8:24 am

    Contact your Congressman and Senator.
    The cost to mint the cent is ~$0.016 and the nickel has climbed to $0.10 mostly due to the rise in base metal products (copper, zinc, nickel, etc). Yes, the Mint has been making presidential dollar coins to the tune of over 50 million per president counting both Denver and Philadelphia facilities. The mint is also making Sacagewa dollar coins every year. Some people do collect the coins but not as many as the Mint had hoped. Thus, there are huge vaults filled with newly minted dollar coins.? ($$$$$ wasted and continuing.)
    The US is the only country that still uses a paper dollar. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing recently wasted something like one billion dollars of hundred dollar notes due to problems with a plastic security thread — is kept creasing so there is another warehouse full of almost money that will eventually destroyed. That is a continuing problem for the BEP, but they will get it right sooner or later (ca-ching!$$$).? To fix that printing problem, the BEP has purchased new presses, $$$$$$ more. And, the beat goes on.

  14. Steve M on June 30, 2011 at 8:26 am

    I’m sorry – did not mean to pick a fight. I’ve had a pretty sad week. My issue – specific to this post – is that they keep spending millions to make these coins and nobody wants them … so stop making them until demand increases and supply decreases. Simple as that.

  15. Plainvillian on June 30, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    Okay Steve, I’ll be serious.? There is a practical reason $1 coins are resisted by businesses in addition to people not wanting to carry a few extra ounces of weight in their pockets or purses.
    It’s so much like the government’s recent attempt to force the US from the imperial system of measure to the metric system: people just don’t want to change, even if logic and the world scream for the change.
    Anybody who has ever made change from a cash register drawer knows there are only tray segments for 4 or in some cases 5 types of coins.? The cost to add another tray segment and accommodate a $1 coin would be significant.

  16. buckeye-expat on July 1, 2011 at 11:10 am

    What, are you kidding me?? Nobody wants these coins?? OK, then give them to ME!? I dont mind money, coins or not.? At least they are some sort of metal and you might at least make bullets out of them.? Bullets could be useful if circumstances dont change in this country!? Get your hands off MY stuff, whoever, or Ill blast you to smithereens.

  17. Lynn on July 6, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    Steve, don’t worry. Anybody who writes a comment is fair game.? Your post was clear and well written. If people get huffy about a comment you make back, they should know that fortunately, we do not have to be PC at RVO and give everyone a ribbon for writing in.

  18. NH-Jim on July 12, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    A friend of mine collects 3 kinds of metal:
    and Lead (The kind that goes “bang”)
    I agree, No more pennies please!!!? And take that nickel with ya too!? Heck, people don’t even bother to pick them up off the ground just like no one bothers redeeming their 5 cent cans and bottles.


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