It’s Time to Change Our Change

Sep 25, 2008
Frankly Speaking

Many of you have been hearing the word “change” thrown around by presidential campaigns recently, but I want you to think about the change in your pocket.  Initially, a coin’s worth determined their shape and size, meaning that a 5 cent piece was made of 5 cents worth of silver.  In the late 1800s, Congress, pressured by the nickel lobby, discontinued the silver 5 cent piece, commonly referred to as the half-dime, and began minting a 5 cent piece made of nickel.  Over time, inflation and the rising cost of nickel has made the nickel not cost efficient.  Currently, the cost to make and ship the nickel is approximately 9.5 cents, almost twice its value.  This results in a loss of almost $60 million a year to the American taxpayer.

Last week, I introduced H.R. 6942, the 5-Cent Restoration Act, which would replace the current 5 cent piece with the original 5 cent piece, or half-dime.  The half-dime would be made of the same metal content as the dime, quarter, and half-dollar, and would be slightly smaller in size and half the weight of a dime.  But most importantly, it would also be more than half the cost to produce and ship it.

How long are we going to stay on the path of using the current 5 cent piece?  We have already come to a situation where it costs a dime to make a nickel, with the cost rising each year.  By making some small changes in our change, we have the potential to save the American taxpayer millions of dollars each year.  Currently H.R. 6942 has been referred to the House Committee on Financial Services, of which I am a member.  While it seems that we will not be taking up many new legislative initiatives before the end of the 110th Congress, I am hoping that by filing this bill now, I can begin to generate support for it during the next Congress.

If you have any questions about H.R. 6942, please contact my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 225-5565.  The text of the bill can be found here.  Below are a few news articles that discuss the bill.

The Oklahoman- Lucas: Trade Nickel for Half-Dime
Ponca City News- Lucas Wants to Replace Nickel

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