The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Three Coins in a Fountain

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.


     When one tosses a coin into a fountain it is customary to make a wish. The wish could be as substantial as, “I wish for the winning numbers to the lottery,” or it could be as elusive as “I wish for cancer to be cured.”  Until the budget for the fiscal year of 2009 was drafted, never before has a wish dictated the potential use of the discarded currency.

     According to a Congressional Quarterly report from February 4, 2008, President Bush’s budget proposal for the next fiscal year contains a provision that would allow the Architect of the Capitol “to use coins tossed into the fountains on the Capitol grounds and at the U.S. Botanic Garden to help fund ‘environmentally beneficial projects.’”  This proposal “could go for such things as installing more energy-efficient lighting around the Capitol complex or to purchase carbon offsets,” two projects rumored to be among Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s favorite environmentally-friendly initiatives.

     Unfortunately, neither media reports nor the President’s budget language quantify the amount recovered from the fountains, so anyone expecting major environmental remediation is probably engaging in wishful thinking.  There is no word yet if other agencies are planning to institute similar policies concerning couch cushions.  But, beware, if past trends are any indication, it won’t be long before the IRS steps in to institute a tax on revenue received from the Tooth Fairy.

-- Evan Miller

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