The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

COINS Act Makes Cents

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


On June 6, 2013, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa),  along with Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) introduced S. 1105, the Currency Optimization, Innovation, and National Savings Act.  This bipartisan legislation would save the United State $4.5 billion by eliminating the $1 bill and replacing with the $1 coin, a transition that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has recommended nine times over the past 23 years.

In June 19, 2013 op-ed in Politico, Sen. Mike Enzi described some of the reasons why he believes switching to the $1 coin is a great idea:

The Bipartisan Policy Center’s Domenici-Rivlin Debt Reduction Task Force called it “a simple, common sense measure” that would address the country’s growing federal deficit.

People in the U.S. also like the dollar coin. When informed of the savings, taxpayers favored the more sustainable dollar coin. According to a poll by The Wall Street Journal, 61 percent of Americans favor eliminating the dollar bill. Major publications, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Boston Globe and the Chicago Tribune have also endorsed the move because of the savings it would generate.

Dollar coins are 100 percent recyclable while dollar bills generate an enormous amount of waste. Billions of dollar notes are shredded and sent to landfills each year, while a single dollar coin would replace 17 dollar bills in its lifetime — and then be recycled to replace 17 more.

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) has been extremely vocal in its support for the $1 Coin.  In advance of a November 29, 2012 hearing before the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy, CAGW's president, Tom Schatz, sent a letter to subcommittee members outlining many of the main reasons why eliminating the $1 bill in favor of the $1 coin makes sense:

The United States is alone among industrialized countries in having such a low value for its paper currency. Canada, the European Union, Japan, and other nations switched to the $1 coin and have experienced cost savings far greater than their initial estimates. There is sufficient evidence to believe that GAO’s most recent cost-savings estimate is also too low. Prior GAO estimates relied on a replacement ratio of 2:1 coins to notes, which is consistent with the experience of most other modern that made the transition in recent decades. Accordingly, the replacement ratio most likely to occur would generate far greater savings than the GAO’s most recent estimate, which relies on a 1.5:1 replacement ratio.

In a separate hearing on February 5, 2013 before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, CAGW president, Tom Schatz, reiterated CAGW's support for the $1 coin.  In addition to these two instances, CAGW spokespeople have conducted radio interviews, written op-eds, and issued press releases in support of phasing out the $1 bill for the $1 coin.  Making this transition should be an easy decision for elected officials in Washington who claim to be looking everywhere for ways to reduce the deficit and debt.

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