Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) introduced legislation that would discontinue the $1 dollar Presidential coin program. More than a billion of these coins—or half of the total in existence— are currently sitting unused in the vaults of the Federal Reserve Bank (Fed). They cost millions of dollars to create and store and will continue to be minted until 2016 unless action is taken.
“Everyone has heard of printing money we don’t have,” Speier said. “This is minting coins we don’t use. It’s the glaring type of government waste that rightfully infuriates taxpayers. We should put a stop to it immediately.”
In 2005, Congress enacted the Presidential $1 Coin Act which created a series of commemorative coins starting with George Washington and adding a new President every 3-4 months. However, these coins have only been produced through Ulysses S. Grant. Speier’s bill would allow the mint to print additional coins if reserve levels decrease below 10 percent.
Some 2.4 billion of these coins have been minted since the start of the program in 2007. According to a recent investigation, the government has already wasted more than $300 million making coins that no one wants. Around 1.25 billion of the coins are sitting in the vault of the Fed and over 60% of the coins that finally enter circulation return there for storage. The Fed told Congress last year that the pile of idle coins could double by the time the program ends in 2016.
“This is an experiment that has failed,” Speier said. “Too often, Congress adopts a program and then puts it on autopilot without holding it accountable. We need to break that habit and these coins are a good place to start.”