As part of the restructuring of the US Mint, the area of commemorative coins have to be a significant concern. With both the classic and modern commemoratives, congress could not help itself by using commemorative coins as a form of fundraising for pet causes. While some of the beneficiaries of the funds are worthy, others have caused significant controversy. Additionally, there were commemorative programs that have lost money for the US Mint causing more losses than what has been seen in the cent and nickel.
The first reform in commemorative coinage would be that no commemorative would be struck for the sole purpose of raising money for any organization. Regardless of how worthy the organization may be, the association of the commemorative with fundraising taints the process. Thus, this proposed reform recommends that no commemorative coin may be proposed with the purpose of fundraising.
Once the commemorative coin has been approved, related groups may petition congress to attach their organization to the commemorative for fundraising purposes. If congress approves, the organization will be paid for the profits beyond the cost of manufacturing, packing, and distribution of the coin. The US Mint must be able to recover their costs before any money is distributed to the approved organization. Payments will be made quarterly after the US Mint has broken-even. As part of this plan, the US Mint holds back 5-percent of the dispersal in order cover future expenses. When the sales of the commemorative coins are complete, the US Mint’s costs will be recalculated and the remainder will be paid to the approved organization.
Before choosing an organization for fundraising, the commemorative coin must be selected. Since congress has bungled this over the years, congress should no longer select topics or how the program is to run. As part of the reformed commemorative coin laws, the congress sets parameters for how commemorative programs and leaves the decisions to the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. When the CCAC makes their selection, the process will be limited to something of national interest. It may be something relating to history (e.g., War of 1812), the anniversary of a government institution or program, someone of national historical significance, or a building of national importance (e.g., the Capital Building, White House). The commemorative must be something representative of the national interest.
All commemoratives will be proof strikes. There seems to be no purpose to uncirculated commemorative coins nor is there a purpose for clad commemorative. Commemorative programs may contain up to four coins with the priority being $1 silver, $10 gold, half-dollar silver, and $5 gold. In this scenario, if the commemorative program is to only have three coins, then the $5 gold coins would not be used. If the commemorative is used for a fundraiser, the US Mint will add a $5 premium for the half-dollar, $10 premium for the dollar, $25 premium for the $5 gold coin, and the $35 premium for the $10 coin.
Because it may be impossible for the egos in congress to remove themselves from the commemorative process, the law should allow that they be given the ability to vote in one commemorative program per year. As opposed to their current practice, a congressional commemorative program may specify everything except the design and where the coins will be struck. The design will be created by the CCAC and the US Mint engravers to match the theme of the program and the branch mint used to strike the coins will be selected by the US Mint in a manner to make efficient use of the facilities.
As part of the transition, any commemorative program passed by congress prior to the restructuring will be issued as required by the enacted law. However, those commemoratives will count against the one program that congress is allocated per year.
Fixing the commemorative coin program is a combination of making it relevant and removing the fundraising aspect of the programs. With the compromise of allowing congress one commemorative program a year and giving them the ability to add a controlled fundraising aspect after the fact, this should prevent commemorative coins from becoming irrelevant.
The restructuring continues next with the bullion programs.