Curious About $1 Presidential Coins That Nobody Wants

By David Wade, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – At a time when our federal government is hemorrhaging money, what if we told you there’s a federal program that almost everyone says is a waste, yet it continues to churn out a product that sits in storage.

Roger from Peterborough, New Hampshire Declared his Curiosity to WBZ-TV:

“Why doesn’t the news report the proliferation of new $1 coins that no one wants?”

Well, here you go, Roger.

He’s talking about the $1 Presidential Coin Program.

The idea is to honor presidents, four of them per year, by issuing dollar coins with their pictures on them.

They use the coins in MBTA ticket machines for change, but people we talked to don’t like them.

One rider says, “I don’t really use them and I try to get rid of them as soon as I get them.”

WBZ-TV’s David Wade reports

And that’s the costly problem.

Not many people want the coins.

The result is that the coins have been piling up since the government started minting them four years ago.

There are now about 1.3 billion of the coins sitting in Federal Reserve banks – just sitting.

So far, storage costs have been nearly a million and a half dollars.

Since they keep making more coins, the Fed is almost out of room and wants to spend $650,000 to build a new place to store them in Texas.

It’ll cost $3 million just to move the coins to that facility.

The answer seems easy.

If people don’t want them, just stop making them.

But nothing is easy in Washington.

The U.S. Mint has to continue producing the Presidential coins because the law says it does.

Congress passed the Presidential Coin Act back in 2005 and only Congress can change the law.

“It’s a terrific waste of money, the way they’re doing it,” says Charles Southwick from C & J Coins in Woburn.

“The Presidential coins are very unpopular,” he says.

Southwick says that’s too bad.

Taxpayers would save money if we used dollar coins because they last for years and years, while paper bills don’t.

“If they stopped issuing paper dollars the plan would work fine,” says Southwick.

But since it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen, the costs keep rising to store the coins that nobody wants.

There are several bills before Congress that would change the law and cut back on the Presidential coin program, but so far, no dice.

One of those bills is sponsored by our own Senators Kerry and Brown.

Some people say they’re trying to protect the Mass. company that makes the paper used for U.S. currency.

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