Bill Aims to Curtail Minting, Printing Costs|
November 01, 2013
Legislation put forth in the House of Representatives Sept. 19 could impact the Mint and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
The bill, H.R. 3146, introduced in a period of heavy partisan bickering in Washington, contains a “prohibition on non-cost effective minting and printing of coins and currency” among a ragbag of other provisions including legal restrictions on the number of paper copies of government documents that can be produced.
It says that the Treasury secretary “may not mint or issue any coin that costs more to produce than the denomination of the coin (including labor, materials, dies, use of machinery, overhead expenses, marketing, and shipping).”
Next it prohibits engraving or printing “any United States currency that costs more to produce than the denomination of the currency (including labor, materials, dies, use of machinery, overhead expenses, marketing, and shipping).”
The first section is promoted as a cure for the “losses” attributed to the cent and the nickel, which both cost about double face value to produce.
Losses though are largely an exercise in accounting. Metallic costs for both denominations are now running at half of face value. The fewer coins the Mint makes, the greater the overhead cost applied to surviving denominations.
The cash cow that was once the dollar coin has seen mintages dramatically reduced to fill just collector demand. Mintage reduction reduces the seigniorage profit generated by dollar coins as well as the ability to shoulder overhead costs.
The half dollar is also largely irrelevant, leaving the dime and the quarter to carry the load if the cent and nickel are eliminated.
With just a sponsor and five co-sponsors, the bill was referred Oct. 15 to the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations.
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