White House Axes Wasteful $1 Presidential Coin Program

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The White House effectively ended the $1 presidential coin program Tuesday.

It cost us $50 million a year for a bunch of coins few people really wanted.

Several months ago, TIME Moneyland wrote about the $1 presidential coin program, which was a Congressional effort to get more $1 coins in circulation while also being educational.

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But few people actually wanted them. In fact, after years of production, only about 60% of them made it into circulation. The other 40% just sat in a Federal Reserve vault. In the Obama administration’s announcement Tuesday that essentially ended the coin program, Vice President Joseph Biden joked that “calls for Chester A. Arthur coins are not big.” Poor President Arthur.

So in an effort to cut government waste, the White House said that the U.S. Mint would scrap the production of millions of dollar coins, which will save $50 million a year. A small number of coins will still be produced for collectors, but not in massive quantities as before.

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The program began when Congress enacted a law in 2005 mandating the automatic production of the coins. But when they started getting produced a couple years later, demand was extremely low. Currently, the U.S. Treasury estimates there are about $1.4 billion worth of presidential coins just sitting in government vaults. And there were more coming – about 1.6 billion more. But not now.

It’s a smart move by the administration to cut back waste. We just hope President Arthur’s legacy will remain intact.