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Presidential Coin Production Cut in U.S. Cost-Saving Move

Dec. 13 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Mint, in a money-saving move, will stop making presidential $1 coins for general use and will produce only enough to meet demand from collectors.

That’s bad news for fans of Chester Alan Arthur, Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison, who are to be featured on the coins made in 2012. Since 2007, the mint has worked its way from George Washington to James Garfield in a set of coins honoring U.S. presidents.

“The call for Chester A. Arthur coins is not big,” Vice President Joe Biden said at a Cabinet meeting today where the cutback was announced.

Because people aren’t using them, more than 40 percent of the presidential dollars made so far have been returned to the Federal Reserve, giving it a stockpile of 1.4 billion excess coins, according to a White House statement.

“We simply shouldn’t be wasting taxpayer money on money that taxpayers aren’t using,” Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in a statement.

The plan to cut back on the coins was announced at a Cabinet meeting led by Biden to highlight Obama administration efforts to trim wasteful government spending. Making presidential coins only for sale to collectors will save at least $50 million a year in production and storage costs, the White House statement said.

Intent on Change

“We are intent on changing the way the government does business,” Biden said at today’s Cabinet meeting.

Biden said he wants a progress report in March on progress in meeting a presidential order last month to cut about $4 billion a year from spending on travel, mobile phones, laptops, printing costs and other areas.

Biden said the Justice Department recovered $5.6 billion in fiscal 2011 from civil and criminal fraud cases.

Deputy Attorney General James Cole said the department’s work included health-care, mortgage and procurement fraud. Cole cited a move to recover $61 million in settlements with producers of defective bulletproof vests.

Federal spending is under scrutiny in Congress, and President Barack Obama has ordered Cabinet officials to take steps to reduce some of the $110 billion in improper or erroneous payments made by the government last year.

Under a 2005 law, the mint has turned out four new presidential dollars a year. Cleveland, the only person to serve non-consecutive terms as chief executive, is slated to get two coins next year as both the 22nd and 24th president.

To contact the reporters on this story: Kate Andersen Brower in Washington at kandersen7@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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