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U.S. on $1 coin: Who needs it?

©Associated Press
December 18, 2002

WASHINGTON -- Nearly two-thirds of Americans oppose replacing the dollar bill with a coin, but many change their minds when told the switch could save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, a new poll finds.

Despite a three-year, $67.1-million marketing campaign by the U.S. Mint, people remain attached to their greenbacks and show little interest in filling their pockets with golden dollar coins, the General Accounting Office said Tuesday.

While 70 percent of people have heard of the new coins, only 5 percent have plunked one down at a cash register and fewer than 2 percent have used them to operate vending machines or toll booths or for mass transit, according to the GAO-sponsored Gallup survey.

The GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, has estimated that eliminating the dollar bill and switching to dollar coins would save about $500-million a year because coins last longer than paper notes and cost less to distribute. More than half those surveyed said they would favor scrapping the dollar bill to get the savings.

The GAO found that 93 percent of people who had heard of the new dollar coins said they are not being used because people are more familiar with dollar bills. Four out of five people also said they pass on using the coins because they have enough change as it is. The same proportion said the dollar coins aren't widely available.

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