The underwater economics of minting pennies is well-known: It costs about two and a half cents to mint a cent, primarily due to the cost of the copper and zinc that go into each coin. But dollar coins don’t cost more to produce than they’re worth, and they last about 30 years, versus less than five years for a dollar bill.
The GAO admits that the idea is “controversial,” and proposes spending $8 million to convince the public that coins are the way to go. “We’ve never bitten the bullet to remove the $1 bill as every other Western economy has done,” Philip Diehl, a former director of the U.S. Mint, tells TIME. “If you did, it would have the same success the Canadians have had.” Canada not only has a $1 coin (the Loonie), but a $2 coin (the Toonie)
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