WASHINGTON -- Massachusetts' two U.S. senators may represent different parties, but they're teaming up to stop production of the presidential dollar coin series. Sens. Scott Brown (R) and John Kerry (D) in late September introduced the Currency Efficiency Act of 2011 to prevent what they called a "massive overproduction" of the "unpopular $1 coin."
The Brown-Kerry proposal would stop the government from minting $1 coins when a major surplus exists. Earlier this year, the U.S. Treasury Department reported that $1.2 billion worth of unwanted dollar coins (and growing) are now stored in government vaults at a cost of more than $2 million a year.
The new Senate bill appears to be a counter response to the Currency Optimization, Innovation and National Savings (COINS)Act, introduced 10 days earlier by House members from Arizona that would eliminate the dollar bill in favor of dollar coins, achieving a $5 billion savings over 30 years. | SEE STORY
The Brown-Kerry bill is the second piece of legislation introduced this year intended to shut down dollar coin production. A California congresswoman offered legislation this summer to cease minting coins in the presidential series. | SEE STORY
However, the Brown-Kerry bill is widely seen as an effort to defend a home state industry and company. Dalton, MA-based Crane & Co., founded in 1801, is the sole supplier of cotton-based paper for U.S. banknotes, which are printed for the Treasury by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Crane has been supplying U.S. currency paper since 1879.
Nevertheless, the two sponsors presented their measure as a way to save taxpayers money by reducing the cost of storing unwanted coins. However, Brown and Kerry omitted to mention that if $1 banknotes were withdrawn from the market, all $1 coins would enter circulation and the cost of storage would be zero.
The Dollar Coin Alliance, a coalition of small businesses, budget watchdogs, transit agencies and labor groups, announced its opposition to the Brown-Kerry bill. The alliance conducted a poll earlier this year that suggests 65% of Americans favor the $1 coins over equivalent banknotes, and that more people supported the high-denomination pieces once they realized the savings associated with the switch.
As a result of the August compromise to raise the U.S. debt limit, a so-called "Congressional supercommittee" has been charged with finding $1.5 trillion worth of deficit savings over the next decade.
The Dollar Coin Alliance's honorary chairman, Jim Kolbe, a former Arizona congressman, said he expects the supercommittee to recommend passage of the COINS Act.