New budget fix: Pawn Mount Rushmore?

Hey, the country has been talking about minting a massive platinum coin. Could selling a giant granite tourist trap be any more ludicrous?

By Kim Peterson Jan 15, 2013 8:12AM
Credit: Purestock/Getty Images
Caption: Mount Rushmore National Memorial South DakotaThe White House has killed a proposal to mint a $1 trillion coin to get around the debt ceiling. And now it's facing what of course is the next logical idea: pawning Mount Rushmore to the Federal Reserve.

According to a petition filed with the White House, the government should pawn the mountain to the Federal Reserve if the Treasury Department can't pay the interest on the federal debt.

"Now that #MintTheCoin is dead," reads the petition, referring to the movement to mint the trillion-dollar coin, "our best option is clearly to sell Mount Rushmore to the Fed, and buy it back later once our cash flow problem is solved."

How much is Mount Rushmore worth? The entire project, which began in 1927, took 14 years and cost just $1 million. The sculpture was a transparent play for tourism money, and it worked: About 3 million people visit each year.

All six of South Dakota's national parks, of which Rushmore is the largest, contributed $168 million in economic benefit in 2010, according to the National Park Service. In fact, Jay Leno joked last year that Mount Rushmore is the only thing to see in South Dakota. Here's the text of a fake narrated commercial that ran on the "Tonight Show," according to the Rapid City Journal:
"Spend a week in South Dakota. On Monday, see Mount Rushmore. On Tuesday, see Mount Rushmore again. On Wednesday, visit the gift shop at Mount Rushmore. And on Thursday, relive your first experience, at Mount Rushmore."
Clearly, Mount Rushmore is priceless to South Dakota. And perhaps the federal government could get a pretty penny for selling it to the Federal Reserve.

The proposal is obviously going nowhere. Only seven signatures had been collected by the petition Monday night, and 25,000 are needed by Feb. 13.

But the idea has been embraced in social media, with the #PawnTheMountain hashtag gaining steam in some circles on Twitter. The idea may have come from Jordan Weissman, a business writer for The Atlantic who suggested it on Twitter as a way to avoid default. An associate editor at The Atlantic, Matthew O'Brien, wrote Monday that the Treasury could really sell anything valuable enough to the Fed with the agreement to buy it back later. O'Brien may have started the White House petition, in fact.

"This kind of repurchase (repo) agreement would give the Treasury cash flow if it's running so low that it can't pay the interest on our debt," O'Brien wrote.

More on Money Now

Jan 15, 2013 4:31PM

This is the dumbest idea ever. We already allow forein nationals to purchase property. Few nations allow this. We have sold so  much of our realestate to foreign owned companies and indivuals that it would be suprising if a majority of lands were not already owned by foreigners. Get with it America!


Jan 15, 2013 4:14PM
Let's sell Air Force One... that mutha has cost us millions over the last 4  years to just be used as a vacation plane.
Jan 15, 2013 4:11PM
Mt. Rushmore is not now, nor has it ever been, a tourist trap.  The author of this piece is a fool.
Jan 15, 2013 4:11PM

Let's sell Cape Canaveral to the Chinese.  Who cares if we put a remote controled car on Mars.

Would save millions.  The Chinese would then have to buy their parts off us, and create jobs.

Let's sell the National Arts buiding and all the art in it.  Have you see the junk we're paying millions for?

Let's do away with the Bureau of Indian affairs. They are all born Americans. They don't need to be subsidized.  Let's do away with all subsidies.  Let's do away with al the Navy boats other than submarines and aircraft carriers... maybe a few destroyers to protect the carriers.  The rest aren't needed.  Let's nationalize all land not owned by American Citizens.  Merge the Marines into the Navy, the Army and Air force.  Would save millions.  Everyone would have to have the same basic training as the Marines...


Now, with the above done, we've just solved the national debt.  Simple stuff this goverment. 

Jan 15, 2013 4:08PM
How about PAWNING all of the politicians possessions, after all most off it were from the TAXPAYERS.
Jan 15, 2013 4:08PM

You can sell it, Native Americians still have a penting claim for the land.


Jan 15, 2013 4:07PM
Jan 15, 2013 4:03PM

Let's sell congress and the people in it.  The building is only a cost to Americans.  The people inside do nothing to serve Americans.  If we sold the Capital Building, the over spending might stop, and by all means, make it a one way deal.  Who ever bought the Capital building has to take the Senators and Representatives there to their country.  That way we would have to pay their enormous retirement benefits.  If we sold Mt. Rushmore, it's just a rock, but if we sold the Capital building, we would cut at least a half a trillion dollars in pork spending a year.  Look at the Sandy Hurrican fund.  There is $400 million dollars in pork waiting to be passed with the bill.  Get behind me now. Sell the capital building but who ever buys it, has to take the congressmen out of the country with them. 


Fixing goverment is easy.  It's a positive intelligent decision followed by action.

Jan 15, 2013 4:03PM

Keep Rushmore American


If anything sell "Debt Bonds" to American citizens.  Similiar to WAR Bonds the Debt Bonds would pay interest to U.S. citizens and not foreign governments.  Their purpose would be to pay off the national debt.  Of course a provision would have to be a law, (barring a national emergency) that forces the U.S. Government to live within its means

Jan 15, 2013 3:55PM
Legalize crack and tax it.  Then put a big tax on new car stereos too.
Jan 15, 2013 3:40PM
Seems like that would be selling stolen goods. Steal it from the True Americans and then sell it? 
Remember before bush came to office our country had a excess of money there was so much that the congress took time off and washington closed for a few xtra weeks .
Jan 15, 2013 3:39PM
The previous should read in part to accomodate increased spending. Any politician that floats the idea to sell and of our parks or monuments owned by the tax payer should be thrown out of office.
Jan 15, 2013 3:37PM
First implement term limits. Put Senators and Representative in the same retirement (S/S) and Medicare that many of us taxpayers are in or will be. Quit giving our money to Foreign countries that really would rather see our country fail. Get serious about the budget instead of raising the debt limit to accomodate increased monuments, etc.) should be thrown out of office.
Jan 15, 2013 3:36PM
Eliminate social and corporate welfare and save billions. We shouldn't have to pay for their irresponsibility.
Jan 15, 2013 3:36PM
For you that voted for bo......this is what you sowed...this is what you reap.
Who is stupid enough to think obama is to blame for this economy ? It was mr. Bush that started a war in eraq that has put this country trilions in debt.
Jan 15, 2013 3:32PM
Are you out of your f-n mind??  Why not sell the Oval Offi--, oh, that has already been bought.
Jan 15, 2013 3:27PM
This president has already pawned our children's future to China 

Bonhomme no Dubya sealed that deal, not Obama. Do you remember when bush was in office and he let China flood out country with thier products. Yeah, bush sealed the deal not Obama, stupid.
Jan 15, 2013 3:25PM
Ok lets take a look at whats happened since clinton signed nafta,keep in mind that it takes about 4 yrs to see the effects from a new pres.I worked for a large company when this bill was signed,not long after the nafta bill,this company earnestly began building a plant in mexico,and another in india,so when someone tells you nafta had nothing to do with companys moving outside the us,then they are lying to you, bush followed in the same footsteps cattering,and passing bills for big business,and signs the patriot act,a bill that gives the pres. more power,and the american people less.andrew jackson kicked out the federal reserve,and we printed our own money,abe lincoln also kicked them out,the federal reserve we have today is the 3rd one they have built in this country.They keep weasling their way back in somehow.2005 we lost 6 million jobs,ok all these people had good jobs were making their mortgage payments,and paying taxes.the tax revenue lost from this is in the billions,not to mention that now they have to pay all these 6 mil people unemployment benefits. ok now 6 million people cant afford to pay their mortgage,hence the housing crash,all this can be traced back to clintons nafta bill!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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