WASHINGTON – The presidential dollar coin has fallen victim to Washington's cost cutting efforts.
The White House said Tuesday it is stopping nearly all production of the coins, which carry the likeness of every deceased president. The effort will save taxpayers $50 million a year in production and storage costs.
In 2005, Congress passed the Presidential $1 Coin Act, which mandated that the United States Mint issue four new coins each year from 2007 to 2016.
But as it turns out, there just wasn't much demand.
"Surprising, to my shock and dismay," Vice President Joe Biden said jokingly Tuesday as he announced plans to stop production.
The United States Mint had been producing between 70 and 80 million coins per deceased president. But the lack of demand has resulted in nearly 1.4 billion coins — or 40 percent of those produced — being returned to the Federal Reserve.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said simply: "That costs money."
The White House says the coin surplus will more than meet the demand for the coins for at least a decade. And the Mint will still be required by law to produce a small number of coins for collectors.
The announcement is part of a White House campaign to cut back on government waste.
The White House also announced efforts Tuesday to reduce Medicare fraud involving prescriptions for OxyContin and Percocet, and outlined steps the Justice Department took to recover $5.6 billion in fraud this year.