WASHINGTON, D.C. - Fewer dollar bills in your wallet doesn€™t sound like a good idea, unless, of course, those paper bank notes are replaced with dollar coins. After years of back-and-forth between supporters and opponents of dollar coins, some economists think now is the right time for exchanging the dollar bill with a copper coin, McClatchy Newspapers reports.
Sen. Tom Harken (D-IA) and Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) both sponsored bills this year to boost dollar coin circulation via education and collection. Both states are also copper producers, which would be used for coin production.
Dollar coins have been slow to catch on (remember the unpopular Susan B. Anthony dollar coins of 1979-1980?). A recent try by the Department of Treasury to reinvigorate interest by producing presidential dollar coins, a line similar to the hugely popular state quarters, met with resistance. The agency stopped production of the presidential dollar coins last year.
"Given the substantial, growing inventory of $1 coins, it is clear that the minting of hundreds of millions of additional $1 coins over the next several years is not necessary and is not an effective use of taxpayer dollars," said Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal S. Wolin.
This go around, paper makers and copper firms are lobbying harder on the issue. Advocates of dollar coins say the metal money is easier for small transactions, such as vending machines or public transportation. Retailers counter that removing dollar bills altogether would be costly.
"They'd [retailers] would have to adapt cash registers, change money-transportation measures and redo coin dispensers," said Jeff Lenard, NACS spokesman.
But supporters point out how frugal producing dollar coins are compared with dollar bills. The Government Accountability Office said it costs 15 cents to make a dollar coin, which can circulate for 30 years, and around 3 cents to manufacture a dollar bill, which only lasts 4.7 years.
Currently, both bills are waiting for hearings in committee.