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Dollar bill on chopping block?

The congressional supercommittee whose task it is to make recommendations by Thanksgiving to bring down the federal deficit has taken aim at the very instrument that measures its success: the dollar bill.

It is claimed that by eliminating the note, the federal government can save billions of dollars (that’s with a “b”) over the next 30 years. The only problem: it is predicated on the American public switching from a dollar bill to a dollar coin, which poll after poll shows they don’t want to do.

USA Today broke the story that the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction wants to K.O. the dollar bill.

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The cost of the coin is about 13 cents while the dollar bill is about 10 cents – but now, given inflation, an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office suggests that over the next 30 years, annual savings would average $100 million, or $3 billion for the three decades, because coins last far longer once produced.

Efforts to abolish the dollar bill dating back to 1975 have failed time after time.

Former U.S. Rep. James Kolbe of Arizona first introduced legislation to create a small-sized dollar coin to replace the note in 1987 as a congressional freshman.

He’s still fighting that battle even after he retired from Congress in 2006. He is now 70 years old and is the honorary chairman of the Dollar Coin Alliance.

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“You have this gigantic deficit,” says Kolbe. “You have this supercommittee and Congress is looking for savings anywhere they can.”

USA Today says: “Lobbying interests on both sides are ramping up their efforts in the expectation that Congress could decide the issue after more than 25 years of debate. Mining interests, vending companies and mass transit agencies support the coin. Paper and ink producers and some small retailers oppose it.”

Congress now hungering to reduce the deficit might finally act – even in a manner contrary to public opinion to prevent more painful budget cuts elsewhere.

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