New coalition opposes efforts to eliminate paper $1 notes

Americans for George working to keep $1 FRNs in circulation
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Published : 11/13/11
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A new coalition opposes efforts to eliminate the $1 Federal Reserve note in favor of a $1 coin.

The Americans for George coalition states it is working to “ensure that the citizens of the United States maintain the ability to choose their preferred currency,” according to its website www.americansforgeorge.org.

The coalition was formed in early October shortly after Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., introduced H.R. 2977 on Sept. 20.

Schweikert’s bill, known as the Currency Optimization, Innovation and National Savings Act, or COINS, calls for the elimination of the $1 FRN. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, is a co-sponsor of the legislation.

Three days after the introduction of H.R. 2977, Sen. Scott P. Brown, R-Mass., introduced S. 1624, the Currency Efficiency Act of 2011 seeking suspension of the $1 Presidential Coin program. The Senate bill is co-sponsored by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. The paper used to print FRNs is solely produced by Crane & Co. of Massachusetts. The firm has been, with few exceptions, the sole supplier of U.S. currency paper since 1879.

Proponents of the $1 Federal Reserve note say the U.S. government is racking up storage costs at Federal Reserve vaults where $1.2 billion worth of dollar coins are stored.

Coalition members

The coalition describes itself as “an ad hoc group of like-minded individuals, businesses, and organizations seeking to ensure that citizens of the United States maintain the ability to choose their preferred currency. The members of the coalition oppose efforts to eliminate the dollar bill and replace it with a dollar coin.”

Included in the list of 33 coalition members are Crane & Co.; SICPA, the Swiss manufacturer of inks used by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing; and the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, a volunteer group that maintains George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate in northern Virginia (George Washington is depicted on the face of the $1 FRN).

The coalition also cites the results of an independent nationwide public opinion survey it commissioned confirming the overwhelming popularity of the dollar bill.

By landline and cell phones, 800 interviews among likely voters were conducted from Oct. 10 to 13, according to the firm that conducted the opinion poll, Lincoln Park Strategies in Washington, D.C.

The survey found “76 percent of voters oppose doing away with the dollar bill; 77 percent of both Democrats and Republicans oppose the idea along with 73 percent of Independent voters; and 63 percent of voters say they are less likely to support a candidate who favors getting rid of the dollar bill including 60 percent of Republicans, 58 percent of Independents and 68 percent of Democrats.”

Tom Ferguson, spokesman for the coalition and former BEP director, said, “When looking at all the facts, it is clear Americans want to keep the dollar bill, they don’t like the idea of a dollar coin and there are no real savings or deficit reduction to be had by eliminating the dollar bill.”

Opposing view

The move to replace the $1 FRN with dollar coins has support from other quarters. The Dollar Coin Alliance, whose goal as stated on its website, http://dollarcoinalliance.org, is to be “dedicated to saving American taxpayers billions of dollars by transitioning to a one dollar coin. We are focused on educating taxpayers and policy-makers about the benefits of increasing dollar coin circulation.”

The alliance’s honorary chairman is Jim Kolbe, the former Republican U.S. representative from Arizona. Among the 16 members listed on the alliance website are the Copper and Brass Fabricators Council, Copper Development Association and Global Brass and Copper. The Presidential dollar coin is composed of more than 70 percent copper.

Opponents of the continued production of $1 FRNs cite the March 4, 2011, Government Accountability Office report stating “replacing the $1 note with a $1 coin could save the government approximately $5.5 billion over 30 years. This would amount to an average yearly discounted net benefit — that is, the present value of future net benefits — of about $184 million.”

The march report is the latest in a series of reports over the past 20 years in which the GAO has estimated the annual net benefit to the U.S. government of replacing the $1 note with a dollar coin.

The GAO analysis “assumes a 4-year transition period beginning in 2011, indicates that the benefit would vary over the 30 years. The government would incur a net loss in the first 4 years and then realize a net benefit in the remaining years. The early net loss is due in part to the up-front costs to the U.S. Mint of increasing its coin production during the transition.”

It is unknown at the moment if the ongoing debate over a dollar coin instead of a $1 FRN might be among the recommendations to cut the United States debt.

Hensarling, co-sponsor of the COINS act, is co-chair of the so-called supercommittee — a 12-member Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction. Kerry, co-sponsor of legislation to maintain production of the $1 FRN, is a member of the supercommittee.

The committee has a Nov. 23 deadline to come up with $1.5 trillion in debt savings over a 10-year period. ■

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