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NAMA Rebuts Atlanta Journal-Constitution $1 Coin Attack

Posted On: 12/10/2008

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CHICAGO -- The National Automatic Merchandising Association has responded to a column authored by Richard Miniter of the Hudson Institute that appeared in the Nov. 30 edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The opinion-piece alleged that "special interests" were lobbying Congress to waste taxpayer money on replacing the $1 bill with a circulating coin, to the detriment of the banknote-loving American public. The column may be found here:

NAMA president and chief executive officer Richard M. Geerdes issued the following statement in response:

"In April, 2000, the Government's General Accountability Office estimated annual savings using $1 coins instead of printing $1 bills would be $522 million. It is perfectly reasonable to assume that the savings from the coin, which lasts 30 years, as opposed to the bill, which lasts two years, would have risen to at least $600 million a year by 2008. 

"Mr. Miniter is right in pointing out that the cost to produce coins has risen substantially in recent years. According to the United States Mint's 2007 Annual Report, the cost to produce a penny has risen to 1.67¢ and the cost of the nickel has risen to 9.53¢. The cost to make a $1 coin in 2007 was 16¢ per coin. So the penny and nickel yielded a loss to the American taxpayer of $98 million for the year, while the $1 coin yielded a profit to the taxpayer of $574 million. Now what coin does Mr. Miniter urge the Government to stop making -- the $1 coin?

"Not only would $1 coins be good for the taxpayer, they would also be good for the vending industry and the millions of Americans who buy from vending machines every day. Coins work virtually 100% of the time, while many thousands of vending machine sales are thwarted every day by low quality $1 bills. Up to half of vending machine operators' service calls are due to jammed bill acceptors. Dollar coins would reduce service calls. And $1 coins are much cheaper to dispense in change than $1 bills.

"Progress is being made in the vending industry in making credit and debit card options available to customers, but substantial capital costs and per transaction fees remain a barrier.

"The vending industry is committed to making as many modern payment options as possible available to the public, including credit cards, debit cards and $1 coins."

Dan Mathews, NAMA executive vice-president and chief operating officer, released the association's rebuttal to the press. He added, "There is simply no question that everyone would benefit if $1 bills were replaced with $1 coins.

"This issue is very important to us at NAMA," Mathews emphasized, "and we will continue to take whatever steps are necessary to help make it happen."