Bipartisan Senate Coin Legislation Offers Taxpayer Savings, Deficit Reduction

Press Release

By:  Tom Harkin Tom Udall John McCain III Thomas Coburn Mike Enzi
Date: June 6, 2013
Location: Washington, DC

Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), John McCain (R-AZ), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Tom Coburn (R-OK), and Mark Udall (D-CO) today introduced legislation that promotes the dollar coin as a way to save taxpayer dollars and reduce the federal deficit. The nonpartisan U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has advocated for this change for more than two decades to help reduce government spending.

"The benefits of the dollar coin have long been recognized by reputable sources such as the GAO as a smart investment for our country," said Harkin."The experiences of countries around the world reveal that transitioning to dollar coins will generate significant savings to taxpayers without disrupting businesses or consumers. I am hopeful that this bipartisan legislation will continue to gain traction in Congress."

"I am pleased to again cosponsor the Coins Act, which will modernize our currency and more importantly provide real savings to American taxpayers,"said McCain. "Given our country's staggering debt, Congress should pass this common sense reform to reduce government spending."

"Nothing should be off the table when looking for ways to reduce the deficit and that includes changes to our currency," said Enzi. "Changing to dollar coins has the potential to save millions and is one of many steps we need to take on the road back to fiscal responsibility."

"Currency production should make economic sense. That's a no-brainer," said Dr. Coburn. "As GAO has said, a switch to the dollar coin would be cost-effective."

"This bipartisan idea takes an innovative approach to modernizing U.S. currency while saving billions of dollars in the long run," said Udall. "Getting the federal budget deficit in check requires a thorough examination of our dollars and cents -- in this case, literally. Transitioning to the dollar coin represents a more sustainable approach to our currency."

The facts in support of the Currency Optimization, Innovation, and National Savings (COINS) Act (S.1105) are strong:

The GAO has examined this issue nine times over the last twenty-three years and has reached the same conclusion -- the U.S. should transition away from a $1 note and move to a $1 coin. The numbers vary in each report, but the GAO has estimated savings of anywhere from nearly $200 million to more than half a billion dollars saved per year by making the transition.

In addition, virtually every modern economy has made this switch to higher denomination coins. Most major western countries in the world have made this transition without so much as a ripple of impact to businesses or consumers. All saved a great deal of money by doing so. In fact, according to reports from the Canadian government, when they moved to the $1 "Loonie" coin 25 years ago, the country saved at a rate ten times initial government projections. Countries with coins worth more than a dollar include Canada, Great Britain, Japan, the Euro Zone, Australia, Switzerland and others.

The dollar coin will save money for those engaged in a large number of transactions like large retail stores, vending machines operators and transit agencies. A study by the Philadelphia transit agency, for example, showed that it was three and one half times cheaper to process coins than notes.

The $1 coin is durable and environmentally-friendly. Most dollar bills currently in circulation were made within the last three years. Dollar coins officially last 30 years. To put it another way, a single dollar coin can do the job of at least 17 dollar bills over the course of its lifetime. When the coin, which is made almost exclusively from existing scrap metal, gets pulled from circulation, it is 100 percent recyclable. In contrast, the government disposes of 7,600 tons -- that's 15.2 million pounds -- of currency paper each year.

The COINS Act is supported by the Dollar Coin Alliance, a coalition of American small businesses, budget watchdogs, trade associations and private companies with a singular focus of moving the United States toward an economical, environmentally friendly dollar coin. Members include Citizens Against Government Waste, the International Association of Machinists, the National Bulk Vendors Association, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Tri-State Automatic Merchandising Council and United Steelworkers.

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