Can that be any surprise after last summer’s uproar over the fact that more than 1 billion are being housed at great cost in the vaults of the Federal Reserve System?
The public uproar over the dollar coins then also explains why the Obama Administration chose to take an action that at best will save only $50 million a year while other specific issues raised at the news conference Dec. 13 could lead to savings of billion of dollars from government health care spending. However, actions involving government health care usually take time and the results are hard to prove.
Suspending Presidential dollar coin production is both immediate and definite. Both qualities are hard come by with the financial problems that plague our national government.
Achieving a quick headline is as important as the amount of savings. The imperative for the Obama administration is to be seen doing something – anything – to save money. Many people will remember the dollar coin brouhaha last summer and agree with the current decision. Since they do not use the coins anyway, the general public in no way will be vexed by their discontinuance.
Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Neal Wolin made the public announcement of the decision, which was made by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner as part of a general effort to cut waste in government led by Vice President Joe Biden.
Presidential dollar coins will continue to be struck for the collector market. To do otherwise would be to outright disobey the congressional mandate to strike the dollar coins in the first place, but at least the present action retains the appearance of trying to obey Congress. To get the administration off the hook long-term, Congress should amend the original legislation.
Striking relatively small numbers for collectors will allow us to finish our sets. Since the coins no longer would be in circulation, perhaps this could be the reason for Congress to modify the program to allow the striking of dollar coins to honor living former Presidents. It has been a ghoulish exercise to speculate where the Presidential series will end. Why not make it a complete set and end it with whoever is in the Oval Office at the time?
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If Eunice Shriver can be honored with a commemorative dollar while she was alive, why not honor living former Presidents and a sitting President with what now in essence has become a commemorative set?
Or, leave the series alone and ask Congress to tackle the long-term problem instead: abolish the $1 bill and mandate dollar coin usage in its place. This would save more than $50 million per year, but it also would irritate millions of people.
With that it mind it is understandable why the Administration grabbed the sure $50 million. Trying to abolish the $1 bill would go against the grain of public opinion and Congress would probably prevent any such attempt anyway.