Viewpoint: Compromise on Dollar, Cent Use|
September 19, 2013
There has been much talk among the readers of Numismatic News about what to do with the cent, nickel, dollar coin and dollar bill. As each of these denominations has its own constituencies, I thought I would attempt a grand compromise in which all parties sacrifice something but no party loses entirely.
The Presidential dollar coin program will most likely end in 2016 with the issuance of the Reagan dollar, so let’s use that as a starting point.
I propose making 2016 the last year for both the cent and dollar bill. Starting in 2017, begin circulation of a new Lincoln dollar coin using the current Victor D. Brenner portrait of Abraham Lincoln.
The reverse of the coin may either be an appropriately modified continuation of the current Union Shield design from the cent or of a new device emblematic of the United States, but on a Lincoln dollar.
I feel this should cover the bad politics, which normally accompanies calls for the elimination of the Lincoln cent. Although his cent will be gone, billions of dollar coins bearing Lincoln’s likeness will soon replace them annually.
The remaining cents need not be recalled. Banks may continue to circulate the coins and make them available for those who wish to use them while everyone else may round their transactions (or prices) down or up to the nearest five cents.
As for Jarden Zinc, manufacturer of the cent blanks and most likely to lobby to oppose the coin’s elimination, I would suggest an alteration to the 5-cent pice’s composition. The coin could be made using zinc cores sandwiched between think layers of the current curpronickel alloy. I’m hoping this will allow Jarden Zinc to retain enough business with the U.S. government to withdraw its objections in addition to creating a nickel that may cost less than 5 cents to produce and distribute.
The Crane Paper Company, the exclusive provider of U.S. currency paper, is a significant lobby against the elimination of the $1 bill. The issuance of a dollar coin, however, should bring about a resurrection of the $2 bill in commerce. By making them aware of the $2 bill’s likely increased presence, this might allow Crane, like Jarden, to retain enough business with the U.S. government to overcome their opposition to the idea.
As for the political consequences of losing Washington on the $1 bill, I would first suggest updating the $2 bill’s appearance to bring it in line with the large, off-center portraits used for the $5-$100 bills and then replacing Jefferson’s portrait with that of Washington’s.
On the back of the note, instead of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence, use a depiction of Mount Rushmore. That way, Jefferson still remains prominent on the $2 bill, covering that lobby as well.
And for the people, they can now have wallets full of lightweight $2 bills rather than pockets laden with “heavy” dollar coins as no more than one dollar coin would ever be needed for change in any given transaction.
Is that fair enough to all? Should we be writing our representatives in Congress?
This “Viewpoint” was written by Michael Reczkowski of Lodi, N.J.
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