A petition on the White House's "We the People" website calling for the minting of a trillion dollar platinum coin has garnered over 10,000 signatures to date. It is amazing that such a fanciful idea could generate so much interest. But it's time we start looking at more realistic solutions.
Case in point, the GAO -- Congress' own budget watchdog -- has been recommending a switch from the dollar note to the dollar coin for over 20 years. If Congress had taken the advice of the GAO the first time around, we could have already saved taxpayers more than $10 billion.
While it may not add up to a trillion, everyone involved with the federal budget recognizes that an "all options on the table" approach is necessary to solve this problem. Currency modernization and the dollar coin -- a common sense measure that most industrialized countries have embraced -- need to be a part of that discussion.
Those who support the notion of minting a trillion dollar coin should instead be urging Congress to mint the dollar coin. If the United States makes the switch from the dollar bill to the dollar coin, the country would save taxpayers $4.4 billion dollars, plain and simple. Congress would not have to cut a single program, or raise a single tax.
Editorial boards across the country, including the New York Times, Boston Globe, Washington Post and Chicago Tribune, have all endorsed the dollar coin. A new report from the Bipartisan Policy Center's Rivlin-Domenici Debt Reduction Task Force (named for former Director of the Office of Management and Budget Dr. Alice Rivlin and former Republican Senator Pete Domenici) backed the switch. The American people, when informed of the savings, support the dollar coin by a margin of 2:1. And, as impossible as it may seem, legislation to modernize our dollar currency to the coin -- the Currency Optimization, Innovation and National Savings (COINS) Act (H.R. 2977 and S. 2049) -- received bipartisan support in both chambers during the last Congress.
Republicans are scheduled to vote on a bill to raise the debt ceiling within the week. The effects of anther fiscal cliff are bearing down on taxpayers while Congress struggles to find a viable solution to the crisis, let alone cooperate with one another. The country is on yet another crash course in fiscal damage control while taxpayers bear the brunt of the anxiety.
The growing support for the trillion-dollar coin is evidence of the American people's frustration with Congress and their desire to fix the growing debt crisis.
In the coming weeks, new legislation will be introduced in Congress and members of Congress need to hear from the American people that they support common sense measures like the dollar coin when it means billions in budget savings.
The Dollar Coin Alliance -- a coalition of small businesses, mass transit agencies, budget watchdogs, trade associations, and private companies -- is focused on educating taxpayers and policy-makers about the benefits of increasing dollar coin circulation. But we need your support. Join our efforts at www.DollarCoinAlliance.org and add your name to the growing chorus of Americans urging Congress to take action.
It may not be worth a trillion dollars, but the savings from the dollar coin are a big chunk of change that Congress cannot afford to ignore.