Commemorative Baseball Coins Causing Headaches for U.S. Mint, Congress

Our amazingly awesome, extremely efficient elected officials who get so much work done in Washington, have created nothing short of a migraine for the U.S. Mint while dabbling in the work of the private sector—and would you believe it’s all over the size of a series commemorative coins for the National Baseball Hall of Fame?

The House of Representatives this week will be forced to pass a piece of legislation allowing the Mint to produce the coins without incurring greater costs because of the size Congress set for the coins.

If you want to try to wrap your head around it, The Hill has more:

In 2012, Congress passed the National Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Act, which called for the creation of coins to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014.

The law says the $5 gold coin must “have a diameter of 0.850 inches,” and that the $1 silver coin must “have a diameter of 1.500 inches.” The law also encouraged the Mint to create domed, or curved, coins—the side bulging out will show a baseball, and they will be the first curved coins ever to be produced by the U.S. Mint.

The Mint took a few practice swings at the coins, using standard metal blanks of 0.850 and 1.500 inches.

But in doing so, the Mint discovered that the process of curving the coins means their final diameter will be a tiny bit less than the diameters set out under the law. Meeting the final diameter requirements under current law would therefore mean starting with slightly larger metal blanks, which would run up the cost.

The Mint instead asked Congress to change to the law so it can start with standard precious metal blanks that are 0.850 inches and 1.500 inches in diameter. That would let the Mint end up with curved coins that are slightly smaller in diameter.

“The Mint has requested a statutory change to the required diameter of the coins because when the Mint started technical work on making the coin domed it found that pushing out the center of the coin slightly drew in the edges,” according to a summary of the technical corrections bill from Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.).

“The Mint therefore asked for a change in the law from specifying the finished size of the coin to specifying the diameter of their standard coin blank, so it does not have to order custom blanks which would be more expensive.”

A few more cute quotes and baseball metaphors were thrown in there to make the article seem fun, but in reality, I’m left with a couple of questions:

  1. Why the hell is our government concerning itself with the sale of coins that are going to benefit the National Baseball Hall of Fame?
  2. Since they are concerning themselves with these coins, can someone tell me how they all became so versed (and concerned about) the production of the coins, down to the size and shape of the coins?
  3. The bill that passed last year, the one that’s being changed this week, passed the House by a vote of 416-3. Where was this bipartisan-type work during the budget debates?
    1. Sub-question to that: Who are the three people that really voted no to this, and why? (Answer provided in the article: “The only opponents to the bill last year were Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Paul Broun (R-Ga.), and Ron Paul (R-Texas). Ron Paul is no longer in the House, but Amash is, and he argued that Congress should not help private groups this way.” Those greedy bastards proposed a bill last year that would’ve stopped Congress from authorizing new coins that help raise millions of dollars for the groups that they commemorate.)
  4. Where and when can I get one of these coins, because, in all honesty, I think they’re cool sounding and would love to help keep Cooperstown in tip-top shape, especially since none of the proceeds (supposedly) are going to benefit our debt-ridden, out-of-control-spending government.

Some more details on the coins:

Like other commemorative coin bills, the baseball coin bill calls on the Mint to create the coins, which would then sell at a premium, and the funds would go to help the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Specifically, the $5 gold coin would sell for $35, the $1 silver coin would sell for $10, and the half-dollar would sell for $5.

I’m sure when the time comes to vote, they’ll knock this one out of the park ;-D.

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