A Pocketful of Pennies Bears Thought : Money: Congress won’t sell Americans on a dollar coin.

Share via
<i> Philip N. Diehl is director of the U.S. Mint</i>

Legislation and budget measures now before Congress would abolish the dollar bill and require the Treasury Department to mint a new dollar coin. The goal is to force Americans to accept a coin they don’t want in the name of cost savings that will never materialize. The result will be an immense expense and the third dollar coin to fail in the past 25 years.

Americans simply don’t want a dollar coin. Since the 1970s, they’ve rejected the Eisenhower dollar and the Susan B. Anthony, and they haven’t changed their minds: In opinion polls since 1990, Americans have disapproved 5 to 1 of substituting a coin for the dollar note.

How much will be saved by minting dollar coins and abolishing dollar notes? The Congressional Budget Office says savings will average $20 million over five years. But to achieve that savings, the Mint will need at least $79 million in extra appropriations to make the new coin. Most important, all savings vanish if the new dollar coin doesn’t circulate.


Merely abolishing the dollar bill doesn’t guarantee circulation of the substitute coin because the Federal Reserve has been planning to reintroduce the $2 note. By habit or simply because they don’t like government ordaining their choices in currency, consumers could bypass a dollar coin to use a $2 note.

If this legislation passes, we’ll have billions of new dollar coins in our vaults next to the 291 million Susan B. Anthonys that have been lying there for 15 years. Let’s abandon this plan before we repeat history’s mistakes.