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How Much Did the TSA Collect in Loose Change You Left X-Ray Bins in 2010?

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By HVnews on January 14, 2012

When then-candidate Barack Obama promised “Hope and Change” throughout his 2008 election campaign, little did we know he was talking about the loose change left behind at the nation’s airports.

Passengers who rush through security checkpoints leave behind enough change to pay the president’s salary — In 2010, all that loose change added up to $409,085.56 (which, the TSA says, was $376,480.39 in dollar coins, quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies, and $32,605.17 in foreign currency).

USA Today has more on the breakdown:

Passengers at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York left the most change in 2010 ($46,918.06), followed by Los Angeles International ($19,110.83), Hartsfield Atlanta International ($16,523.83), San Francisco International ($15,908.02), and Miami International ($15,844.83), according to the TSA.

The TSA “makes every effort to reunite passengers with items left at the checkpoint,” agency spokesman Greg Soule said. Money that can’t be returned to its owner is used to finance agency operations.

A nice amount, though you think it might be more. Only $1,120 a day at 15,000 airports?

So where does that money go? One House Republican is proposing that money go to the United Services Organization to help operate their welcome centers for U.S. military personnel:

“Allowing TSA to keep unclaimed taxpayer money for any and all purposes is an egregious breach of its duty to the public that it serves,” [Rep. Jeff] Miller wrote in a recent letter to House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King, R-N.Y. “This money should be put to good use, and there is no better organization to use this money wisely than the USO.”

That’s a solid idea, though let’s relax with the “egregious breach of duty to the public.” This is loose change left behind. To each person, it’s not a big deal. If House Republicans were this up in arms about what the banks are doing to average Americans, maybe there would be better legislation in place to really deal with egregiousness. Let’s save the outrage and just find a place for the change.

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