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



383Comments
Jan 15, 2013 3:24PM
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Hmmmm, what would Reagan do? Sell it to Japan or the CHinese.
Jan 15, 2013 3:24PM
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Hell No! Reduce the salary of the rich to minimum wage. That would help.
Jan 15, 2013 3:21PM
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The reason the debt ceiling has never been an issue before is because Congress has always raised it automatically in all previous administrations.    It is only because Republicans want this President to fail so badly that they are willing to ruin our credit rating and damage our economy in the process.  If all the negative posters spent more time reading our Constitution than listening to Rush and Hannity they would know that the President does not create debt.  It is the Congress that passes the laws to increase spending not the President and if I remember correctly they were especially active during the Bush administration running up the tab with two unfunded wars, two massive tax cuts, and Medicare Part D.  For the record, most of the 47% who do not pay taxes are retirees and veterans.   I’d say they have given enough!

Jan 15, 2013 3:12PM
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Pimping national treasures?  It sounds like it's time to enroll the the federal govenment in a 12 step program.  Uncle Sam's got a problem.

Jan 15, 2013 3:08PM
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LETS JUST MAKE THE RICH PAY FARE SHARE OF TAXES!!! ITS NOT THEIR MONEY ANYWAY IT ALL COMES FROM INVESTMENT FOR THE MOST PART!!! Get it right! they"ll make more... the greedy keep on get'n
Jan 15, 2013 3:08PM
Jan 15, 2013 3:06PM
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Don't worry, soon the Chinese will foreclose on it and the White House and The Capital building as well.  Then the President will get evicted......)))
Jan 15, 2013 3:04PM
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Cut wages and pensions of government officials and make them pay for their health care. I thought we were all created equal? I'm not seeing it.
Jan 15, 2013 3:03PM
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Mount Rushmore is priceless to North Dakota. And perhaps the federal government could get a pretty penny for selling it . This might wake up those in congress who don't believe in paying our debts...However ( mainly Republicans) may have  incurred them. I'd love to default on my mortgage payment .... but, it would only lead to trouble.
Jan 15, 2013 3:01PM
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Are they out of their minds?.......again....  Nutso.  Cut perks, spending, no more special interests and favors, have Congress live like the rest of us, and raise taxes where needed.  Run the country like a business.  Fire the idiots who keep us in the red.  What is wrong with some of these voters who consistently are sheep and vote being told what to do and are gullible to all the baloney?  Now four more years of s.o.s.  The dems are as bad as the repubs.  Congress has such of bad sense of entitlement for themselves.
Jan 15, 2013 3:01PM
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Sure thing if they use the money for something constructive. We all know that won't happen ever so forget it.    Let me guess who's idea this was......Joe Biden's? Or was it Hillary's? Maybe it was Ben's idea.  He should get a raise for this one.

Congress should be getting whatever the average pay is for the area they represent.  Not 10 or 12 time that, I bet you all wish you could vote yourself a raise every time you want one.
I sure wish I could.

Jan 15, 2013 3:00PM
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Since the current bunch of clowns in dc no longer believe in the same government that the gentlemen on Rushmore believed in, we might as well lt it go. BUT! only to pay down the debt, and not borrow more dam 0bam fones.
Jan 15, 2013 2:51PM
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Pretty stupid idea...but then...what can you expect from a panic stricken government that is beginning to realize the purse is empty...and the citizens have decided to NOT give it a raise!

 

Learn to live within a budget! CUT SPENDING!

Jan 15, 2013 2:50PM
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Good idea Teddy, but how many in DC will vote for it? Would you give up retirement after serving 6 years, free medical care from a choice of 100 different insurers, 190k a year plus a million K for office expenses (many hire family members to work in their offices),  living expenses, travel on USAF planes first class for trips around the world, security to protect everyone in the family, free postage to tell the folks at home how much you are doing for them, free bennies from companies that invite members to speak for 20 minutes at a "conference"  in a vacation location then have a week-end paid for the family, the ability to know where the feds will be spending money in the future and investing in those areas(this was suppose to stop as of December, will it?), going to DC with a few bucks in your pocket and winding up owning radio stations (LBJ), Harry Truman said it best "anyone who made money while in DC politics was a crook".
Jan 15, 2013 2:50PM
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This SOCIALIST is out of control, It's time for introduction to the floor Procedures for IMPEACHMENT.
We have had enough !

Jan 15, 2013 2:48PM
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Why don't they pawn the whitehouse instead, it would make a great bed and breakfast..
Jan 15, 2013 2:43PM
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Can we get rid of the halfbreed-in-chief instead? Oh that won't work, who the he ll in their right mind would want him?
Jan 15, 2013 2:43PM
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No.  Absolutely not.  I'm sure our budget problems would be over if we cut out all foreign aid and ended the war NOW!
Jan 15, 2013 2:43PM
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I'm looking forward to the future episode of Pawn Stars where Obama stops in with a photo of Mt. Rushmore. Had to go to the Fed when he was only offered $2,000 and $500 store credit.

Jan 15, 2013 2:42PM
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Why do so many of you ignorantly blame President Obama for what is so clearly a Republican spending problem???

The problem with such statements  is that some dimwit somewhere might believe you.  There are NO facts to support any part of statement blaming the current president for the obvious errors of Trickly-Down economics and passing laws without properly funding them.  Oh, and starting two huge wars, and then giving the richest a tax holiday that lasted for ten years.  It is no wonder that America can not pay its bills!

Let's stick to facts:  our President is trying to save our economy.  President Obama has not sold ANYTHING to China, at all, at any time.  Our attempts to stimulate our economy have been curtailed, cut back, minimized and deteriorated by the Republicans, time and again. 

After the Bush Recession, American economic growth needed a sledgehammer and all the Republicans in Congress would approve is a tack hammer.  Still, even with a diminished bill, the President managed to:  Double the stock market, save banks and brokers and industries, and hold taxes down.

If anything has hurt our economy, it is the Republicans and the T.P.'ers blocking rational government.  Republicans are too buys lining their pockets to bother with understanding the economy, much less doing anything useful about it.

Republicans prove, once again, that they CAN NOT GOVERN!

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