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 1:48PM
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Clearly some people need to read the article before commenting.
Jan 15, 2013 1:48PM
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South Dakota is a beautiful place. Or at least that's what it was before the government stole it from the Indians.  Mt. Rushmore should be given back to the Indians.  I just started a petition to give granite mountain range back to the Oglala Sioux!  Please sign it.  There is lengthy and vast evidence that this land was fraudalently taken.  What's even more obscene is that Congress admitted to the mistake back in the 80s and offered to pay the tribe for it (around half a billion dollars - tax payer money!)  They didn't offer to give it back which would be the right thing to do and would have costed the taxpayers NOTHING!.  The tried has still refused the money to this day.
Jan 15, 2013 1:47PM
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You people do know that getting 25,000 signatures on these is pretty much meaningless. 25,000 signatures will mandate a "response." I'm just guessing, but 100% of the time the "response" is, "We heard you and we don't care." It's not as if hitting that magical number means Texas is no longer a state, the Fed must buy Mount Rushmore, or Obama will be deported. I don't know why anyone even talks about these petitions...
Jan 15, 2013 1:46PM
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How about stopping all the time wasted on stupid petitions?  

Get Obama and Biden out mowing peoples lawns on the weekends.  Get Michelle and Hillarwe onto the stripper pole.  That should fix the economy.  I do like the low budget ways this article keeps referencing a beautiful national park.  Degrade anything regular people hold of value.  Suppose if we pawn it, there would be money for the new Big Bird museum and monument.

Jan 15, 2013 1:45PM
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What is Obama's fixation on Mount Rushmore?  You are never gonna get your mug on there because of your lack of greatness.  You got your mug on some t-shirts that mainly pot smokers wear, but that is as far as it goes buddy!
Jan 15, 2013 1:45PM
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or perhaps there is a conglomeration of drug lords that would be interested in buying southern California.
Jan 15, 2013 1:44PM
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Is this what we're paying you pompous people to do - sell our precious landmarks?  I really believe you would sell your souls if they had worth!  Shame on the whole lot of you!!
Jan 15, 2013 1:44PM
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No this is just another "shell game!" Sell federal assets from one branch of the federal government to another branch of the federal government. Where do these idiots think the money is coming from? Or, is it that they think we are all a bunch of idiots!
Jan 15, 2013 1:44PM
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Just let Texas cash-out. For 1 trillion dollars, you can be your own country.
Jan 15, 2013 1:40PM
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Come on, South Dakota has the world's only CORN Palace!  What do you mean there's nothing to see here? 
Jan 15, 2013 1:39PM
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Couldn't we just sell Texas to China?  Their attitudes about law enforcement, unions, capital punishment, & so on are nearly identical.  Of course Texas relies heavily on defense spending, so the Chinese would have to increase the percentage of their GNP going to the military.  Still it seems like a win/win for both. 
Jan 15, 2013 1:38PM
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And how much of the profits go to the Oglala Sioux who have refused to relinquish control THEIR sacred land for a couple of hundred years?  Mt. Rushmore shouldn't even exist but thanks to fraud and greed on the governments part it "belongs to the people".  What a bunch of bull.  At least pay the tribe property taxes on it.  I
Jan 15, 2013 1:37PM
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There are DEMOC> and REPUBL. where are the AMERICANS ?????

Jan 15, 2013 1:36PM
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One way we can save money is that the Seventh US Navy Fleet has been in Japan sense 1945 at a cost of 1 million a day. Let's let Japan use their own Navy to protect themselves, this part of the WW2 treaty is ridicules. Another way is to quit giving Pakastan 20 Million a year so they can have Seseme Street on TV, for the kiddies.
Jan 15, 2013 1:36PM
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We are broke, if our country was a business,  it would be an empty building
Jan 15, 2013 1:35PM
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Obummer is a worthless piece of ****, now the commie and socialist pig is giving away landmarks because he is worthless at running this country, got my NO TAX inrease today on my check, thanks for the lie again on no tax increase, well you Obummer lovers you got it and this is not something you can take a pill to get rid of

CHANGE what a idiot

Jan 15, 2013 1:32PM
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Here is a thought stop giveing away American tax dollars to government that hate us. Seems that would help.
Jan 15, 2013 1:31PM
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Our government disgusts me. Stop spending more than you take in for starters, like RESPONSIBLE people do.
Jan 15, 2013 1:30PM
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i's rathere we sell gietner and obama to the chinese as a first measure
Jan 15, 2013 1:28PM
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If Obama & the Democrats would stop spending there would be no need for rediculous ideas like this.  If Obama had his way he'd sell the entire country to Islamics from rich oil countries so his islamic bros & the Muslim Brotherhood could decimate the USA.  Obama is transforming this country into a welfare ghetto. 

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