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 11:42AM
OMG   ::face palm::  What will they come up with next???
Jan 15, 2013 11:41AM

"Clearly, Mount Rushmore is priceless to North Dakota. And perhaps the federal government could get a pretty penny for selling it to the Federal Reserve."


Mount Rushmore is in South Dakota, SOUTH Dakota not NORTH! Ugh!

Jan 15, 2013 11:39AM
Ummm, Mount Rushmore is in South Dakota NOT North Dakota.
Jan 15, 2013 11:37AM

What idiot thought this one up?  As Forest Gump said "Stupid is as stupid does".  The Chinese buy it and put Chairman Mau up next to Washing ton?

You people get your heads out of your butts and sit down, and think this through and get something done, or, we, the people, will get some who will!!  





Hmmm the US still has W.W.I debt on the books it has never repayed -- rather merely borrowed money to pay those bills so we still owe WWI debt.


With the world largest debt there is no way the US is not a deadbeat nation. In fact we are the mother of all deadbeat nations.


You do know that Congress has the power to print money debt free (e.g. no interest payments) outside of the central bank


The only trouble is the last two presidents that did it Lincoln and Kennedy were both killed in office.


Guess Obama does not want to be killed either.


Look there are at least three options to get rid of the national debt. 


1) inflate it away like they did during Carter and Reagan's terms.


2) Announce to public they are taxing assets of the rich for $16.6 trillion dollars to pay off the national debt -- tell the rich privately not to worry about it -- then have Bernanke print up $16.6 trillion dollars off balance sheet and pay off the national debt.


3) Have Congress print $16.6 trillion dollars and payy off the debt.


Anyway we go with 2 or 3 above our standing in the world will not change and the rest of the world will sleep easier knowing that the most powerful nation in the world with the most nuclear weapons is not about to self destruct financially. Heck the rest of the world may force solution 2 or 3 upon us.

Jan 15, 2013 11:17AM
Sell it to the Indians.  As I recall, the mountain is sacred to some of the tribes and they were royally pissed about the carvings.  They'll blow it up and do away with it, or maybe renovate into famous Indian chiefs like Crazy Horse, Cochise, Sitting Bull, Geronimo.
Jan 15, 2013 11:09AM
gov should own nothing.....  stadiums, parks roads s/b sold to highest bidder.... biz will make it work or drop it...
Jan 15, 2013 10:50AM
What most people do not know, is that Mount Rushmore was Pawned many years ago. It may be a national site or park, but it is run by a private firm. Your park pass does not allow entrance into te Memorial. I am not sure where he money goes, but I would guess it lines the pockets of a few rich people and little actually goes to the people of the USA
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