Last I checked, the Congressional supercommittee was charged with bringing down the national debt through a series of common sense budget cuts over the next decade. Although I’ve been in politics almost ten years, and living in reality slightly longer than that, I still held out hope that somewhere there was a Congressperson appointed to this committee that valued reason and was willing to lead the supercommittee to genuine cuts, which would save America a great deal of money in the long run. Yes, I’m an idiot. But I had hope.
Mostly, the supercommittee is spending its time deciding whether we should keep the paper dollar or revert to everyone’s least favorite useless form of currency, the dollar coin.
Republican Reps. David Schweikert (Ariz.) and Jeb Hensarling (Texas) have banded together to champion the Currency Optimization, Innovation and National Savings Act, a plan designed to replace the lowly, raggedy $1 bill with vending machine-friendly, generation-spanning $1 coins.
On it’s face, it looks like it could be a fantastic plan. Get rid of those nasty green paper bills that only confuse European travelers with a form of hard currency that confuses every red blooded American, but wait. The Government Accountability Office estimates that the Schweikert Plan to phase out the dollar bill is actually a guaranteed loser for at least the first five years of the plan, and at the current rate of production, it actually costs the government money to replace the dollar bills with dollar coins (the GAO estimates it actually costs three times as much to produce the coins as the paper dollars). And that’s not to mention all the complaints from the Fed (yes, the Fed) about how much people hate the coin and how much it will cost them to hold all the coins produced that no one ever uses, sort of like what they’re doing right now.
So what’s all the hurry then? Why all the excitement to force the American people to carry dollar coins? Well, it turns out Rep. Schweikert is from Arizona, one of the nation’s leading copper producers, a state that has a very real stake in the coin industry. Interesting. A self-interested Congressman. What a SHOCK.
I know I’m being cynical, but seriously. Anyone with half a brain and a pencil could whack a few hundred billion out of the budget. But, perhaps that’s why we elect these people to office: to prevent them from actually interfering in economic matters in the real world.