Our leaders in Washington, D.C., face many difficult decisions as they approach the "fiscal cliff."

This isn't one of them.

This is a no-brainer.

The federal government can save billions over time by simply replacing dollar bills with longer lasting dollar coins.

And while they're at it, Congress should stop minting pennies, which cost twice as much to manufacture as they are worth.

The federal Government Accountability Office just estimated that moving exclusively to a dollar coin will save at least $4.4 billion over 30 years.

No, that won't put much of a dent in the federal government's $1 trillion annual budget deficit.

But it does show that some low-hanging fruit is still hanging in Washington as our leaders search for savings. And where our nation can save money without raising taxes or cutting important programs, it should do so ā€” without further delay.

The nonpartisan GAO has been recommending for years that Congress phase out dollar bills. And late last month, the chief operating officer of the Royal Canadian Mint told a U.S. House committee that Canada's elimination of a dollar note in the 1980s has achieved popular and financial success.

Despite some initial apprehension, Canadians now love their gold-colored "loonie" dollar coin, which carries a picture of a loon on one side. The coin costs the government less in the long run to manufacture and maintain than a paper bill. So Canada went on to introduced a $2 coin, dubbed the "toonie."

Critics say some of the savings for the government from eliminating dollar bills comes from collectors and ordinary people holding on to coins rather than spending them. But so what? If you don't hoard coins, that won't affect you.

Moreover, the value of an American dollar bill has fallen because of inflation. It's only worth today what a quarter was worth in the mid-1970s.

People walked around with quarters in their pockets back then. So they shouldn't have a problem with walking around with a few dollar coins today ā€” especially if all of those pennies are eliminated.

This small, sensible change should move forward.

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(15) comments

katty
katty

Australia does not have a plastic one dollar bill, they have one and two dollar coins. Most vending machines do accept dollar coins. Instead of carrying eight 25cent pieces, I'd only have 2 one dollar coins - the weight may be a trade off. I am in favor of more 50cent pieces being minted. Tere is no reason for people to horad the 50cent and one dollar coins.

DBBJA
DBBJA

I was listening to public radio on this very subject and tried to call in with an idea. The big complaint is size and weight of the newer dollar coins.

My proposal, get rid of the penny and dollar bill completely. Make the new dollar coin very close in size to the old penny but a different color (gold?). As with the dime, a dollar coin does not have to be larger than a lesser value coin. Maybe add a serrated edge, possibly even a hole in the middle to lesson the weight even further. The hole could maybe be used to loop into key chains, etc. Eventually do the same with the nickle, making that a $2 coin like the Canadian Tooney. Changing these two coins would save lots of Fed money in the long run and be more convenient than the dollar coin or even the dollar bill now.

A few simple changes would save us all lots of money and as far as the strippers are concerned, I think they would be happier seeing the $1 bills go, seeing that the next bill up is a $5:)

koala
koala

Agreed. But get rid of the nickel too. We had pennies and nickels in 1930, when the dollar's value was 13.8 times what it is today. So ... if the smallest unit of currency we needed in 1930 was $0.01, today it's $0.14 ā€“ let's say a dime. HUGE amounts would be saved be getting rid of both the penny and nickel, both of which are worth many times more as metal than as currency. Plus they largely sit unused in the bottoms of drawers across the nation. Aussies do without pennies and nickels now, and are quite happy.

windy33
windy33

we have had this before and it didn't work out to well. why do it again it will fail

concerned_citizen
concerned_citizen

maybe this proposed change is a back-pocket way to get more exercise for obese Americans?
a little "weight lifting" in their everyday lives; as they walk from the couch to kitchen table to the motor vehicle, to the desk job? a little extra weight in their pockets might lead to some calorie burning, that we surely need, as a nation...

and here I thought "heavy metals" were bad for us.
who knew?

Solstice
Solstice

We have dollar coins AND dollar bills, so the fact remains that one of them should go. I vote for getting rid of the paper bills. It begs the question, though--- how are the nation's strippers going to get by with thongs stuffed full with coinage?

mzd
mzd

Try walking around with a half dozen Euros or pound coins in you pocket. The darn things are heavy.

lester_burnham
lester_burnham

This is a solution to a problem that doesn't exist.

Whazzat
Whazzat

The two U.S. senators pushing legislation to eliminate the dollar bill are John McCain of Arizona and Tom Harkin of Iowa (both should retire but that's another story). McCain is a proponent because mining for the new coin's metal would be done in Arizona. Harkin is in favor because PMX iIndustries in Cedar Rapids would produce the sheet metal that the coins would be made from. Another example of how looking out for special interests for the benefit of a few would be a detriment to the general population. That mentality is exactly how we arrived at the mess we have in Washington today.

jimri
jimri

Nickels cost more than 5 cents to produce; will we do away with those too? If you want to save money on $1 dollar currency production costs over time, and still give citizens a product that they will use and prefer, begin producing "folding money" made out of a substance other than paper. Extra long life synthetic materials are available and have many advantages.

Or, go 100% electronic, with small computerized hand-held devices given to everyone, which make "cash" transactions based on what's in a cash account, and everyone's device is compatible. Sort of like a universal debit card that people could use to exchange "cash" with everyone else. Added advantage - the government finally gets a handle on the hundred billions in the underground economy. Deficit solved.

jimatmadison
jimatmadison

No, no, NOOOO! Do not get rid of the dollar bill. You can make a more durable bill that will last longer. Australia has had them for a while, and Canada is in process of switching.

I don't need more stuff to fall out of my pocket into the sofa cushions or onto the car floor.

I do agree with getting rid of the penny. Round everything to the nearest nickel, or drop one decimal point off of all transactions and make the dime the smallest denomination coin.

you wouldn't have any more coins in your pocket. You would no longer have all those pennies. You'd have a few dollar coins and you'd get used to spening them just like bills.

Do it. Dollar coins. gold, tha same size as the pennies were. No more pennies.
Do it.

timbo
timbo

YOU failed to mention the biggest cost/problem with the dollar coin: How will it be used in vending machines and who will pay the cost of converting all those vending machines to accept the dollar coin? Issue seems like fixing something that isnā€™t broken. Save more money stopping making pennies and nickels and using a federal tax to round all sales up to the nearest dime.

epic
epic

The vending machine industry is a champion of the dollar coin.

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