The $1 coin—the rarely used, much-maligned gold dollar often featuring Sacagawea or Martha Washington—could save the federal government $13.8 billion over 30 years if the government stopped producing paper dollars, according to the Dollar Coin Alliance. The advocacy group, led by former Reps. Jim Kolbe of Arizona and Tim Penny of Minnesota, is pushing for a switch from bills to coins as a solution to the unemployment insurance bill’s cost-offset debate.
Although coins cost more to produce, they last longer than paper bills. A new $1 bill lasts only about 4.7 years before being taken out of circulation, according to the Federal Reserve. Coins, meanwhile, can be used for decades. And because the U.S. Mint has already been producing dollar coins for years, it has already made much of the initial investment, said Shawn Smeallie, executive director of the Dollar Coin Alliance.
“The reason we’re pushing this on the Hill right now is [that] all the amendments that try to pay for this cut a program or pay a tax,” Smeallie said. “You can do this without doing any of that. Our point is, it’s in range of the savings and you’re not hurting anybody.”