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Issue Date: Vol. 47, No.12, December 2007, Posted On: 12/18/2007

NAMA Opposes Plan To Change U.S. Coins’ Metal Content

Tim Sanford

WASHINGTON, DC — The National Automatic Merchandising Association said it is organizing resistance to a proposed change in the metallic composition of the U.S. coin set.

The House Committee on Financial Services has held a hearing on a proposal, HR 3956, that would authorize the Secretary of the Treasury to change the metal content of all U.S. coins. The measure is supported by the Bush Administration and key Democrats in Congress.

Rising prices for copper, nickel and zinc have driven the cost of producing pennies and nickels higher than their face value, while also reducing the profit the Government makes on minting dimes, quarters, half-dollars and dollar coins. Switching to lower-cost metals would eliminate the loss now incurred in producing pennies and nickels, and increase the government’s profit on the larger-denomination coins.

The association warns, however, that using different materials for the coins might require expensive modifications to existing coin mechanisms.

The last major change to the composition of U.S. coins was the move from silver to copper-and-nickel “clad” fabrication of dimes, quarters and half-dollars in 1965.  That posed a substantial problem for the vending industry, which NAMA worked with the federal government to alleviate. NAMA emphasizes that it supports efficiency in government, but draws the line at efficiency gained at the expense of the vending industry. “For almost 20 years, we have been urging the government to save the taxpayer at least $600 million a year by replacing dollar bills with dollar coins,” the association pointed out. “Democrat and Republican-controlled Congresses and administrations have refused.”

Operators are urged to contact their Representatives to express their opposition to HR 3956 (the “Coin Modernization and Taxpayer Savings Act of 2007”), and to support genuine coin modernization: replace the $1 bill with the $1 coin.

A list of Representatives and their districts is available at the congressional website, house.gov.

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