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 12:07PM
Let's pawn all those fat cats in Washington's personal stuff!! Pawn Mt. Rushmore?? Are you freaking serious! Unbelievable! 
Jan 15, 2013 12:07PM
Sure, why not pawn it.  Our government officials have done everything else to denegrate this country, why not start a new trend by selling off our national treasures?  Most of the country is already owned by Germany, Japan, China, Korea, et al.  Face it, citizens, we have lost "World War 3". The fiscal and financial war. Congratulations to our senate, congress, and president.  They did a good job in selling us down the river just for a few dollars.
Jan 15, 2013 12:07PM
Jan 15, 2013 12:01PM

 229 Years old and for 221 years we had a managable debt but a bunch of ill informed idiots elect the First American African American President and suddenly the nation is broke, its credit rating is downgraded first time in our history and owe's more money on intrest that it can NEVER pay down the debt!

How much longer are you selfish people going to keep spending money we don't have on social programs that this nation was never ment to create or should still  be running??

Maintaining a national defense is important, paying for a womans birth control pills and buying her a cellphone or feeding her isn't, you got time to have sex you got time to find a job!

47% not paying income taxes and using 100% of our nations government backed and run programs while the rest of us pay for their free loading is beyond Wrong!

You want to sell stuff off to pay down the debt then sale some of those free loaders off to work oversea's, reduce our nations deadbeat numbers.

When you don't pay your own way your a burden and we as a nation can't afford this burden anymore!

Jan 15, 2013 12:00PM
The Black Hills belong to the Lakota Oyate. Give it back if you don't want it. 
Jan 15, 2013 11:59AM
Maybe we should "pawn Obama". That would be good for about a quarter at best. But worth billions saved for America.
Jan 15, 2013 11:57AM
Jan 15, 2013 11:56AM
Anymore idiot ideas to fix the debt problem? Who is running our government - apparently the same geniuses that killed our economy!
Jan 15, 2013 11:55AM
The problem with this country is that the people perceive themselves to be wise and then they write stuff like this.  The last time I checked the map, Mt Rushmore was in South Dakota; on my map anyway.  In this country, the bigger problem is that  many people as well as our frivilous leader, are on another map!!
Jan 15, 2013 11:54AM

What about selling the 7 states that nobody can seem to find?

Jan 15, 2013 11:49AM
Selling Mt. rushmore won't fix the problem.  Broncobummer has spent us into oblivion.  No single thing is going to fix this mess and selling America's treasures at a grage sale is the lamist idea yet.  Well, almost as lame as the 'trillion dollar' coin.  We are playing with 'Monopoly' money here.
Jan 15, 2013 11:48AM
In response to Martin, a Crazy Horse monument is underway at this time. Also, I have traveled to South Dakota many times. Don't underestimate the beauty of the Black Hills and Bad Lands. As far as pawning Mt. Rushmore, let's leave the parks alone.  Maybe Congress is a possibility.
Jan 15, 2013 11:47AM
This president has already pawned our children's future to China and flushed the constitution. Why not pawn the rest to China. All his Chinese credit cards are maxed out and he is back for another one. Just blame the Republicans when the US economy goes down the toilet. He doesn't mind because ruining the economy is the first  major step toward his ideal of a socialist state. The other part is to disarm the citizenry. Our fathers died for nothing if we let him get away with it.
Jan 15, 2013 11:46AM
pawn the white house.  Washington real estate is quite valuable. Scrotus can move int motel 6 on the beltway.
Jan 15, 2013 11:45AM
Mount Rushmore is much more priceless to South Dakota than North Dakota
Jan 15, 2013 11:44AM
"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 i not in North Dakota.
How about giving it back to the people it was taken from in the first place?
Jan 15, 2013 11:44AM
Article mentioned North Dakota at one point.  Last time I looked it was in South Dakota. 
"Clearly Mt. Rushmore is priceless to North Dakota"
Jan 15, 2013 11:43AM

Government should own nothing?  Sounds like someone left the asylum door unlocked again.

Jan 15, 2013 11:42AM
Let's just reduce the lawmakers including the presidents salary to $8.00 an hour. One term limits and when you term is up no more money. What a great thing it must be to get so much pention for  a PART-TIME job.
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