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 10:15PM
Sorry Kim Peterson, but Mount Rushmore is not a "giant granite tourist trap" as you stated in the title of your article.  As a proud South Dakotan who lives in Rapid City, Mount Rushmore is a symbol of this country's freedom and pride.  I too think this is a ridiculous idea and see it going nowhere, but for you to disrespect the monument like that was absurd.  Have you ever been here?  It is magnificent!
Jan 15, 2013 9:38PM
Be careful folks.  Our Government could sell US (me and you) to China for few buck.   Heaven knows they need money.  
Jan 15, 2013 9:19PM

Not hard to figure out why the country is in the fix it's in. When half our country is being supported by the backs of the middle class workers. Their voices are being ignored and their votes are out numbered. Time is now to clean house. Stop all government handouts, implement a flat tax and remove all loop holes for corporate america. Control health care costs. Abolish the Federal Reserve and put the finances back in the control of the Congress as the constitution was written. This a a great country and a wealthy one as well. Stop spending our money and lives of our precious soldiers to police a country that does not want us there to begin with. And if we are going to be there fighting for them. They need to pay the bill, not the US.

Take a look at the postings, and look at the Thumbs ups, verses the thumbs down. I think that is a pretty clear indication as the thoughts of the Majority of the American People!!!!

Jan 15, 2013 8:20PM
I think the U.S. should "SELL the GOVERNMENT" and start all over again, I don't think it would hurt us any more than it is now., then perhaps it would start working for the good of the citizens of our great country instead of worring about "W.T.F.'s" going on in other countries and supporting them instead of our people. You know we vote for a "PERSIDENT" it seems to govern other countries not our own, I for one wish we could just revert back to how it was just after the revolutionary war when we became a government for the people and by the people, and not a country to over shadow what happens in other countries, just say-in.
Jan 15, 2013 8:06PM

The sad thing is, no matter what we say or post, it won't change anything.

Jan 15, 2013 7:49PM

The government needs to be accountable again to the people and earn the outrages saleries , course they would have to actual work which they of course can't seem to do.  If they had to live as they say we should on what we make, they wouldn't be in office long. But then we can't vote all our increases and benefits that they enjoy and vote for themselves.


Jan 15, 2013 7:47PM
here`s a novel idea ... why dont we the people who vote in the  crooks who are running our country into the ground  ever vote them out ?...
Jan 15, 2013 7:44PM

Most of life's staples, gasoline, milk, cars have increased 2 to 3 times since 1980. A college education cost has increased 10 times. Anyone paying property taxes knows how often schools seek additional money through ballot measures. I suspect a lot more of the increase in Federal Spending from 1.6 Trillion in 1996 to 3.8 Trillion in 2012 has to do with the cost of maintaining public employee benefits (military, union and non union) than anyone realizes.

Jan 15, 2013 7:26PM
How about we just get rid of the Fed??? Simple solution!
Jan 15, 2013 7:04PM
I lost everything to addicted to meth too.    #PawnTheMountain  #methcity
They could start by reopening every government owned gold mine, there are plenty, and mine for gold on government owned land. That would help then cut benefits to everyone in DC.
Jan 15, 2013 7:02PM
If anyone deserves to get Mt. Rushmore back, it's the ORIGINAL owners, the Cheyenne people.
Jan 15, 2013 7:02PM
I think most Americans truly want to pay their debts.  But, many have troucle doint that because of the government mandates. Try not paying your taxes to get caught up on your mortgage payment!!! Just one example.  I also think the government is behind all the insurance promotions, high hospital costs, medicare increases, and even local tax revenues.  I think the biggest American deadbeats are the Congress persons and the president.  In a tough economy, how can they sleep at night when they waste money as they do?  Two trips to Hawaii, just to sign a paper? Almost everyone now accepts electronic signatures.  Just one example of many.
Jan 15, 2013 6:47PM
We wouldn't have a budget problem if we had a Congress that could add and subtract.  I am serious!   How stupid must they be??  Can they not break the figures down to sizable digits?  I don't know if they can add and subtract two digit numbers though.  Why have more than 300 million Americans allowed this dumb bunch of 536 destroy our nation??? I will never understand.  Congress is spineless.  They want to take from the old, the feeble, the infirm, the elderly, the sick and the disabled to give "aid" to foreign countries.  While they give aid to foreign countries, they do little for our tornado, hurricane, fire and water damaged Americans.  They do continue to give to the young and the restless though.  Those are the ones who will riot, burn and destroy if they don't get a check.  The elderly won't.  Congress is the most spineless I have ever heard of.
Jan 15, 2013 6:42PM
Hell, we might as well sell it...we've already sold the soul of this country to the devil.
Jan 15, 2013 6:33PM
Has all of our government gone NUTS? Are they all on DRUGS ?  They should all be fired, no retirement, no health insurance, deported too Libya , let them fend for themselves, see how it is. We need too hire new people, and not the same number of replacements. Less then half could do the jobs, and never mind all the in-house BS, they are suppose too be working for the PEOPLE , not filling their pockets with payoffs, and bribes................
Jan 15, 2013 6:25PM
Has the government gone absolutley NUTS? are they all on DRUGS?  I yhionk we should fire every last one of them, deport them and hire Way less too do the same job all the do nothiings haven't been for years, just raking in the funds and benifits ..............
Jan 15, 2013 6:14PM
Bad investment! If they ever put Obama's head on it (Minus the ears), the tourist money will dry up. There will be a sizable amount of dough coming in, however, in the form of EBT (Food stamps) expenditures from the idolizing Obama welfare mo's that come to worship him. Adios!
Jan 15, 2013 5:42PM
I hope Mt. Rushmore eventually include the image of President Obama!
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