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 2:12PM

Mount Rushmore is not a "tourist trap."  It is a part of our recognition of historic presidents who envisioned the continued building of a great nation.  Washington and Lincoln pretty much shared the same ideology as did Teddy Roosevelt and Jefferson.  They all made a commitment to expand the nation via exploration and the preservation of land.  Look at their personal records and you will see just how important it was to place these four national figures on the side of a mountain in South Dakota.  If you do a little research, you will understand what each of these men believed and worked to achieve.


Leave the monument alone.  Sell the 545 gutless leaders who refuse to do what needs to be done!!

Jan 15, 2013 2:11PM
are you freaking kidding me? Pawn federal land to a private company? No way. How about just disolving the fed reserve and thus you have not issues.
Jan 15, 2013 2:05PM
Here's an even brighter idea.  Let's sell Texas!  They want to leave anyway.  And face it,  a number of our current problems have come from there. First, there's W and that whole Iraq business that we blew a couple of trillion on.  And then there's the Oil Bidness that gobbles up federal subsidies all the while raking in record-setting profits.  How about Enron?  Remember them?  Scumbags fleecing grannies in California and laughing about it!   Who'll put up the first bid?  Mexico?  Venezuela?   
Jan 15, 2013 2:05PM
Jan 15, 2013 2:03PM
theres no way out ,countrys shot ,kids future bleak,  china gots us by the balls, idiots running the country, its the fall of Rome ,very soon.
Jan 15, 2013 2:02PM

This won't go over so big with the Chinese, since they basically own most of our country these days. How about selling off Washington DC? Since they are not a part of the USA, and just think of the benefits of saving all that wasted money.

Jan 15, 2013 2:01PM
How about we abolish the Federal Reserve and print our own money like we are supposed to under the guide lines of the constitution!
Jan 15, 2013 2:01PM

Normally I would say it is a chunk of rock, go ahead and pawn it.  But there are indigenous species in that park that could be endangered if we have no control over the area.  I don't see why we don't just print up enough money to pay off our debts.


I don't think the current tax plan for the rich will help much either.  We need to tax them on every dollar earned.  Also, the super rich don't earn salaries to tax.  They make money from investments.  We  can raise the tax on profits from investments, but that is just scratching the surface.  Why does someone need more than 2 million in net worth anyway?  I think every dollar should be taxed and anything over their 2 million net worth should be taxed at 100%.  Nobody needs to hoard that much money when so many people could be helped with it.

Jan 15, 2013 1:59PM
Perhaps the government should divest of its holdings in all the Fortune 500 companies. Look at the CAFR, the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. Maybe you'll stop writing articles based upon the false premise that our governments are running deficits, when they are holding assets far in excess of our debts.
If the Government is broke then you can't sell anything to another part of the Government it's broke. Let's be fair the Government stole the Black Hills from the Indians then stole it back when Gold was found there, so lets just give it back to the right full owners the real owners is the Indians.
Jan 15, 2013 1:58PM
Just legalize weed, gambling, and prostitution! Tax it all and take the money being drained off into the black market on this stuff and use it to pay down the deficit. Over time it will make a considerable difference and also free up jail space for violent crime, All these activities are already a common every day activity. Use them to do something positive and take the money away from criminals!
Jan 15, 2013 1:58PM
Take the assets of the terrorist nations we invaded. That was the stated plan to pay for military incursions. 
Jan 15, 2013 1:57PM
Whats next,tomb of the unknown soldier?
Jan 15, 2013 1:56PM
sell it ...sell it ...sell it....why should entire US support south Dakota out of my pocket not in!!!
Jan 15, 2013 1:56PM

I've had several income generating ideas come to mind for our Government... Our gov has an incredible inventory of property (ie. land, buildings, equipment, etc...) Among this collection, Area 51 memorabilia. So, why not go thru take some photo's and then do stuff like limited litho's, T-shirts, action figures, holograms, coffee mugs, stickers, and so forth. Then put these up for sale on Amazon, E-bay, Craigslist, affiliate sales - and so on... Along with a little tickler of future limited tine and quantity releases of additional items of interest in their stock pile. Attempting to estimate the results of which alone is mind boggling. Come on, a lil American ingenuity will cure up the debt issue, in no time at all...

Just gotta get'em to focus on income generating activities aside from taxes a bit more...

Jan 15, 2013 1:55PM
If you pawn the Pres, VP & Congress, between all their holdings and worth we would probably be out of debt. People buy a lot of "stupid" stuff, I'm sure China would want them. Then this country could start over again and elect all new officials to office. Have you voters learned anything yet or are you going to put us right back in the same horrific state???? Wake up America !!!
Jan 15, 2013 1:54PM
Here we go again........ That monument belongs to the people and the state of SD. NOT the federal govt. Who are the feds to make this decision. This @%$#&^ing idiot in the white house and all his other cronnies and crooked politicians will sell their mothers dying last breath if they new they could profeit from it. LIBERALISM IS A MENTAL DISORDER. Stop spending money you dont have and you wont have this problem. This is the first step, if they sell this they will sell the very land you own right out from under your feet. I'm sick and tired of hearing how good this administartion is from all these libs "PUKE".
Jan 15, 2013 1:53PM
I've lived a lot of places (midwest, east coast, west coast) and western South Dakota was the best by far. Living there is a wonderfully kept secret, and idiotic articles like this one will hopefully keep it that way.
Jan 15, 2013 1:52PM

Actually, I think Rushmore (or rather the land upon which it rests), should be gifted

to Native Americans (for whom the site is considered sacred), as a gesture of restitution

for past wrongs.

Jan 15, 2013 1:50PM

Why dont we just sell washington to a prostition ring.They been screwing us for years


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