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Buy American bullion

“Buy American” seemed to be the only theme that truly resonated with members of Rep. Ron Paul’s Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology at yesterday’s hearing looking into the topic of “Bullion Coin Programs of the United States Mint: Can They Be Improved?”

Rep. Al Green of Texas raised the issue of platinum blanks and silver half dollar blanks being made in Australia and wondered why they weren’t being made in the United States.

The response from Ross Hansen, CEO of the private Northwest Territorial Mint, was that the U.S. Mint has not been responsive to vendor development.

Raymond Nessim of Manfra, Tordella & Brookes, Inc., noted that his parent firm was a blank fabricator and the Mint simply looks for the lowest price.

Because the Mint was not an invited witness, no one was there to give a Mint response, though early on in the hearing Rep. William Lacy Clay requested the committee include Mint input in the written record and Chairman Paul said it would be.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York said the country had a jobs crisis and we need to employ Americans.

Few Americans listening to this line of questioning would dispute that the country is in a jobs crisis. But whatever action Congress might take will take many months or years and have little impact on the present shortage of silver American Eagles.

Rep. Maloney did ask a forward-looking question. She wondered what factors Congress should consider for new bullion programs.

With gold, silver and platinum American Eagles, gold Buffaloes, the 5-ounce American Eagle program, half-ounce First Spouse gold coin program and upcoming palladium coins with the Mercury dime design, what other bullion issues could Rep. Maloney have in mind?

Collectors will have to wait to find out. During the hearing, other than buy American blanks, there was no other answer to Rep. Maloney’s question.