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 2:38PM
Sell the District of Columbia to the Federal Reserve, instead. That's a much better idea! That way Congress people will actually be forced to answer to SOMEONE!
Jan 15, 2013 2:35PM
The worst thing to happen to US currency was when the images of politicians were used to decorate money.  Could the desecration of the landscape with similar images be any better?  Creating the monument to political hubris at Mt. Rushmore was a phenominally bad decision.  How could doing anything else with this eyesore be any worse?
Jan 15, 2013 2:34PM
How about selling the worst managed states like: California and Chicago?
Jan 15, 2013 2:31PM

no matter how great the country, no matter how great the ideals, no matter what, anything built by men will crumble, die or fall. Such is the case with the USA.. Greed, sin and worldly materialism has ruined our great nation. We compromised and now its being ruined by liberalism and debauchery.


Invite God back into our nation and into our individual hearts and maybe we still have a chance. With the current homosexuality, liberalism and ungodly behavior, we are in trouble.

Jan 15, 2013 2:30PM
Want to fix the economy?? Get the hell out of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Let the Jews and Moslems fight THEIR war. Use our troops to clean up the Pacific ocean plastic waste dump and help out with natural disasters like Katrina and Sandy. No maimed personnel to support for the rest of their lives. No PTSD BS. Read the rest of these comments. There is a lot of truth here.
Jan 15, 2013 2:29PM
Better idea: why not sell the District of Columbia to the Federal Reserve? All Congress people should be indentured to the Reserve like serfs were to the King. If they don't do their job, they can be put in irons or beaten. Leave Mt. Rushmore to the people. That's what it was created for, anyway.
Jan 15, 2013 2:28PM
our politiciantions have passed laws to allow american companys to use foriegn labor,and they did this because of the huge bribs,or I mean contributions.(same thing) they think if they tell you its a contribution, then you won't see the defenition of bribery in whats going on.  The people we have in congress,and the man in the white house are experts at twisting the meaning of things to pass their agenda for the coporations. The politicians we have represent corporate america,and not the american people,don't kid yourself.we had laws to keep buisiness in this country relalitively small,smaller companys create more compitition thus keeping prices down,and wages up.reenact the laws we had just before reagan took office,and these companys would have to break up in divisions,and all the us companys would be forced to bring the jobs back to americans. They say they can't bring the jobs back! Again twisting words what they really mean is they don't care whats best for you,only whats best for big companys,and we could bring them back,but were not going too because big business throws us bigger bribs!
Jan 15, 2013 2:27PM
We should not sell any monuments. We SHOULD eliminate all pay and benefits to Congress and the White House until they have stopped all deficit spending, gotten rid of the national debt, and restored all the money that has been looted from Social Security.
Bernie Madof is a convicted thief. What is the difference between him and the government? He only stole a few paltry billion, and he got prosecuted. The government has stolen trillions, and will get off Scot free.

Jan 15, 2013 2:26PM
Jan 15, 2013 2:26PM

will the political morons learn in time that they are to work for the people, not on them????

why not reduce welfare, do away with the senate and house lifetime salary for 1 term, cancel their golden health care and let them do as they have legislated for the rest of us??? do away with all the foreign aid??? how can they do these things when the 28th amendment states that they cant legislate anything for themselves that doesnt apply to the citizens and cannot legislate anything for the citizens that doesnt pertain to them??? the politicians have already imposed their own socialism... its time to revolt! ! ! ! !

Jan 15, 2013 2:26PM
Monumentally BAD IDEA!

These 'cash it in" schemes always end up hurting us more than helping.  This is a short-sighted gimmick to make todays legislators look better by borrowing against our future.  Privatization never benefits the people,  It puts money in to pockets of the legislators and may get a government out of a small problem, but they always lead to greater disasters, economically, at some future date.

We need to strengthen our government, not weaken it.  Padding the wallets of well-connected businessmen never makes the government better.  It is a form of theft.  Politicians who propose (or worse, vote for!) such schemes should go to jail for public malfeasance at the least, and for RICO conspiracy to commit a crime charges if at all possible.

Vote such bums out of office, they are worse than thieves.

Jan 15, 2013 2:26PM
Wife and I were there last year . Completed another Bucket List item. Was kind of upset they charged us money to see when they wouldn't accept my Senior National Parks pass which I have earned . Didn't complain about paying but I thought it was a National Park and my Senior pass should have been valid. So this monument has already been "Farmed Out" for money. What a shame. The Black Hills area is a tourist trap from the getgo. Reminds me of Orlando. Wife and I also went to the "Crazy Horse" park. I donated to this cause because we really thought it was worth seeing and it is the dream of one man who worked @ Mt. Rushmore and I would love to see it completed. It is 10 times larger than Rushmore at the best
Jan 15, 2013 2:25PM

So now we got to start pawning ****.


Great Adminestration.....woo hoo.

Jan 15, 2013 2:25PM
 $168M per year??  That has got to be the ONLY thing that actually makes money that 'We the People' own.
Jan 15, 2013 2:24PM
I believe the idiots in congress have become flaming idiots. Why dont they pawn the republican party and see if anyone is interested. good luck... 
Jan 15, 2013 2:19PM
Pawn it to China, they own us anyway.
Jan 15, 2013 2:15PM

This plan could work...


If America operated like an oversexed unemployed drunk college freshman living away from home for the first time.




Jan 15, 2013 2:15PM
Yes! Pawn the heritage and national treasure. Also, I think we can get some cash for the Alamo from the Chinese and maybe some more cash for Yosemite Park from the Arabs!
Jan 15, 2013 2:15PM
we should have given the same consideration to Manns chinese Theatre, it is an american landmark and we go and sell it to the chinese....
Jan 15, 2013 2:13PM
as long as it stays with our country and it will remain preserved, yes sell it
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