The Republican Party’s platform for the November presidential
election contains a plank calling for what amounts to a new Gold
Commission although the plank’s language does not mention the word “gold.”
The platform was approved during the party’s presidential
nominating convention in Tampa, Fla., Aug. 27 to 30.
The plank in the party’s platform calls for a commission similar
to that authorized in October 1980 during the administration of
President Jimmy Carter and implemented during the presidency of Ronald
Reagan. That 1980s commission pondered multiple gold-related subjects,
including whether the United States government should return to a gold
standard, make changes to the then ongoing sales of the American Arts
Gold Medallions and authorize the Treasury Department to issue gold
The current platform
Several Republicans who sought the nomination as the party’s
presidential candidate during the 2012 election campaign had called
for consideration of a return to a gold standard during their
campaigns, most prominently Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, a member of the
1980s Gold Commission. Paul has been one of the nation’s most
prominent proponents of the classic gold standard — in which U.S.
paper money is backed by physical gold — since he entered politics in
the 1970s. When the 1980s Gold Commission rejected the gold standard,
Paul and another commission member wrote a dissenting report for
Congress in which they continued to advocate for adoption of a gold standard.
Newt Gingrich, who dropped out of the race early in the 2012
Republican campaign, said in January 2012 that the United States
should think about returning to the gold standard and touted the
establishment of a new Gold Commission during his campaigning.
The 2012 platform plank does not explicitly call for a return to a
The plank approved in August, written in partisan platform style,
reads: “Determined to crush the double-digit inflation that was part
of the Carter Administration’s economic legacy, President Reagan,
shortly after his inauguration, established a commission to consider
the feasibility of a metallic basis for U.S. currency. The commission
advised against such a move. Now, three decades later, as we face the
task of cleaning up the wreckage of the current Administration’s
policies, we propose a similar commission to investigate possible ways
to set a fixed value for the dollar.”
The language of the platform fails to mention that the 1980 Gold
Commission was authorized by a Congress controlled in both houses by
the Democrats and signed into law by President Carter, and not during
the Reagan administration.
However, at least in part because Reagan defeated Carter in the
presidential election held a few weeks after the Gold Commission
legislation became law, Carter took no steps toward implementation.
Reagan implemented the Gold Commission after he took office in January 1981.
News accounts suggest that returning to the gold standard, while
supported by some factions in the Republican Party, does not appear to
be a major policy position of Gov. Mitt Romney, now the Republican
candidate for president.
Romney, in an interview with CNBC in January 2012, when questioned
whether he was looking at a link between gold and the U.S. dollar,
said that the gold standard is not a “magic bullet substitute for
The majority of the members of the 1980s Gold Commission were not
gold standard advocates, although many did show support for resuming
the production of U.S. gold coinage. The commission was chaired by
Donald T. Regan, Reagan’s first Treasury secretary.
If Gingrich had his way, however, the new Gold Commission would be
chaired by gold standard supporters. Gingrich, talking to Mother Jones
following approval of the platform, confirmed his earlier support for
appointing gold supporters to the new commission, including Lewis
Lehrman. Lehrman served on the 1980s Gold Commission and co-wrote that
panel’s minority report with Paul.
1980s Gold Commission
Although the earlier Gold Commission rejected a return to a gold
standard in its March 31, 1982, report, it did take a pro-gold stance
in another area that eventually led, if indirectly, to creation of the
American Eagle gold bullion coins.
At its Feb. 12, 1982, meeting, commission members voted 12-3 to
recommend that the Treasury Department mint gold bullion coins, which
the panel tentatively called “American Eagles.”
In its March 1982 report to Congress, the commission favored
“Treasury issue of gold bullion coins of specified weights, and
without dollar denomination or legal tender status, to be manufactured
from its existing stock of gold and to be sold at a small mark-up over
the market value of the gold content. ...”
The day after the report was issued, Rep. Paul introduced the
American Eagle Gold Coin Act of 1982 in the House. Paul’s legislation
sought four gold coins to be denominated by weight only, with no face
values. The coins were to be acceptable in settlement of private debts
but not legal tender in payment of federal taxes, duties or dues.
While Rep. Paul’s legislation gained some support in Congress and from
Treasury officials, it did not pass before the close of the 97th
Congress. Similar measures introduced in the 98th Congress also failed
to gain passage.
In 1985, President Reagan issued an executive order banning
further importation of the South African Krugerrand gold bullion coin
as a show of American opposition to South Africa’s apartheid
practices. The executive order also suggested that Congress revisit
the idea of an American gold bullion coin.
Legislation calling for American Eagle gold bullion coins was
again introduced in Congress, but this time the results were different
than in earlier efforts to approve the coins. Legislation became law
on Dec. 17, 1985.
The authorizing act differed from earlier proposals in that the
coins it approved were assigned denominations and made legal tender. ■