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$1 Coins Instead Of Bills? Kill The Dollar Bill And Save U.S. $4.4 Billion? [POLL]

By Melissa Siegel on November 28, 2012 5:44 PM EST 0

Dollar Bill
Could dollar bills be replaced by $1 coins? (Photo: Flickr / Images_of_Money)

Should America use $1 coins instead of bills?

The Government Accountability Office thinks so. The nonpartisan arm of Congress will formally recommend that America switch to $1 coins.

According to CNN, the GAO has been pushing for $1 coins instead of bills for years. The group plans to give its latest arguments in a presentation on Thursday to the House Financial Services Committee.

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This issue of replacing the dollar bill with $1 coins was also discussed back in 2011, when USA Today and other news outlets reported that the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction was considering the move to help eliminate the deficit.

One drawback to this plan is its apparent unpopularity with the public. A 2011 poll by Lincoln Park Strategies found that 76 percent of Americans are opposed to the idea of using $1 coins instead of bills. This number was relatively the same among Democrats, Republicans and Independents.

In addition, ABC News discovered last year that even those who pushed for the $1 coins do not use them. Back in 2005, Congress passed the Presidential $1 Coin Act, which pushed the government to make coins featuring the image of each deceased president. But when the network's Jonathan Karl interviewed Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.), one of the proponents of the bill, Reed admitted even he used bills instead of $1 coins.

"I don't [use dollar coins] I tell you, but I like everyone else repeatedly use nickels, dimes, quarters." Reed responded. "In fact I have a little jar in my car for the traffic meters."

The Wall Street Journal also reported that the US Treasury limited dollar coin production last year after 40 percent of them had come back to the government unwanted.

Still, the GAO is insisting that its plan to use $1 coins instead of bills will work.

"We continue to believe that replacing the note with a coin is likely to provide a financial benefit to the government if the note is eliminated and negative public reaction is effectively managed through stakeholder outreach and public education," GAO Director Lorelai St. James said in prepared comments, per CNN.

Indeed, CNN notes that $1 coins can last around 30 years, compared to just 4.7 years for the average bill. Thus, while a bill is more expensive to produce, the longevity of the coin could save American around $4.4 billion over 30 years.

The GAO will also argue that several other nations, including Canada and the United Kingdom, successfully eliminated low-denomination bills and currently use coins instead.

According to the Huffington Post, the Congressional initiative to kill the dollar bill is being led by Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). Both represent states that would benefit financially from America using $1 coins instead of bills. Arizona contains many large copper mines, while Iowa features a big metal company.

However, Harkin insists that is not why he supports the change.

"The most important thing is it's just more efficient. It's way more efficient than a paper dollar," Harkin said. "Canada has a coin that's worth $2... Switzerland has one worth about $5... And yet, what have we got? We got a 25-cent piece."

Do you think America should use $1 coins instead of bills? Vote in our poll below.

Should America Replace Dollar Bills With $1 Coins?
  
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