Is President Obama gunning for the penny?

The commander in chief expresses support for getting rid of our least-valuable coin, which costs more to produce than it's worth.

By Aimee Picchi Feb 15, 2013 1:57PM

Image: Pennies ( Corbis)If President Barack Obama has any say in it, the United States is going to lose its cents. 


The subject came up during a Google+ hangout with Obama that was advertised as a "fireside" chat, reminiscent of FDR's famous radio addresses.


One participant asked the president why the U.S. hasn't yet phased out the coin, according to Business Insider.


"I gotta tell you, John, I don't know," Obama replied. "Any time we're spending more money on something that people don't actually use, that's an example of something we should change."


If the U.S. dumps the penny, it would be following its neighbor to the north. The Royal Canadian Mint earlier this month halted distribution of the pennies to banks and other financial institutions, with the goal of eventually phasing out the tiny coin from distribution. The reason? The penny costs Canada 1.6 pennies to make, turning it into a money-losing proposition.


The situation is similar for the U.S., where in 2011 it cost the country 2.4 cents to manufacture each coin. According to a group called the Citizens to Retire the U.S. Penny, the country spent almost $120 million in 2011 to produce $50 million worth of coins. 


Dropping the penny would produce savings, but overall the amount would be tiny compared with the government's $3.5 trillion in annual spending. 


That hasn't escaped Obama's attention. 


"This is not going to be a huge savings for government," he noted on the Google+ hangout. 


Of course, the penny's fate isn't up to Obama. The U.S. Mint, which makes the coins, is a federal agency, and getting rid of the coin would take an act of Congress.


Obama seems to realize that getting rid of the coin wouldn't be easy. 


"One of the things you see chronically in government, it's very hard to get rid of things that don't work so then we can invest in the things that do," he said, according to Business Insider. "So the penny becomes a good metaphor for a lot of the problems that we've got."


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469Comments
Feb 15, 2013 3:23PM
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If $120 million is not much of a savings, why is the IRS so worked up over my measly few thousand dollars of income tax.
Feb 15, 2013 3:22PM
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dump the penny.  AND dump the nickle
Feb 15, 2013 3:22PM
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Most american say they want to cut spending but they are lying they will not be able to cope with change in statndard of living that will come with that but necessary for the dollar to stay strong.
Feb 15, 2013 3:21PM
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If he gets rid of the penny, what will Pelosi hold up to prove she can't take a pay cut?
Feb 15, 2013 3:20PM
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People complaining about a bill being 2.01 and getting charged 2.05? First, where do you see that being mentioned as what would happen? Get over yourselves with the Obama hate. He answered a question that was asked of him.

 

Second, did you ever notice when you buy gas it has a 9 at the end? I haven't heard anyone complain about thousandths of pennies before, or lament the day we decided against going British with the ha'penny.

Feb 15, 2013 3:19PM
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Look, I can't stand the guy, but going after Mr. Obama on this is nonsense.  He was asked a question, he answered it.  There are far more important things to really criticize him on, aren't there?
Feb 15, 2013 3:18PM
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"One of the things you see chronically in government, it's very hard to get rid of things that don't work so then we can invest in the things that do,"

 

Exactly, we can't get rid of Obama in the Whitehouse and invest in a president that actually works.

Feb 15, 2013 3:18PM
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You guys are idiots the president is trying to cut spending by cutting the bloated military and even some social program as well. I could see if the penny was inexpensive to make but if it cost 2.4 times the amount of its worth then the most logical thing to do is to cut the penny. Unless they manufacture pennies out of cheaper material besides copper or other expensive metals they should cut it along with wasteful spending. Unfortunately most americans dont want to deal with the fact that we have to cut spending in order to preserve the dollar as the world currency.
Feb 15, 2013 3:17PM
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If you are a racists **** please do not comment.
Feb 15, 2013 3:17PM
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Man,  Im beginning to think we could solve all the world's problems if just half of these Obama-haters would do something that is actually productive instead of trolling message boards!!!
Feb 15, 2013 3:14PM
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Lets see ...  $120 million to make $50 million worth of pennies. That's a loss of $70 million . There are 313 million Americans, that comes out to 22 cents per person. Now if you get rid of the penny are stores going to round up or down? Up of course. So the government saved 22 cents which it  has spent already and you end up paying higher prices. You can't just have every price end in 5 cents because with sales tax you still end up with a non 5 cent total.
Feb 15, 2013 3:13PM
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If the penny goes the way of republican racist leadership and the ignorant sheep that follow them, I'm all for it.
Feb 15, 2013 3:11PM
Feb 15, 2013 3:08PM
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How about we get rid of Obama and save our change!!!
Feb 15, 2013 3:05PM
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If Odummo would stop printing money like a fool, the penny would have some value.  The answer is reduce money supply not eliminating the penny.  Imagine how difficult giving change will be, are we rounding up or down?
Feb 15, 2013 3:03PM
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If Obama would simply show [minimal] interest in one Senator's plan to cut spending by 1 cent out of each tax dollar, we'd have a balanced budget in 10 years. Obama doesn't understand the value of a penny.
Feb 15, 2013 3:03PM
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so drop the penny???? so if your total is 2.01 the government is going to say we have no pennies so charge 2.05 and send us the difference? This makes no sense to me but

 neither does Odumbo

Feb 15, 2013 3:03PM
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I hope the penny does go. It's been long time coming and the mint, if they haven't been, should have been pushing for this. It shouldn't have to go all the way to the white house for common sense solutions like this to be made (that's not a prop for the POTUS either, though you blame Obama for all your woes folks need to get a clue). Should come from elsewhere first. Many other countries get by just fine without pennies. Also regardless of if the savings is small it should still happen, every little bit counts and just like getting rid of Saturday delivery to help the post office this is one of those things that is just a nagging pain but that Congress won't do anything about. Want to start cutting spending, then lets at least go after the low hanging fruit. Paper dollars are next; should be coins. Also, other than defense and health care costs, there are probably few lone programs that look big compared to trillion dollar numbers. Sad thing is most of those who are against this likely support the side that continues to scream for cuts yet when obvious ones like this come up they say hit the brakes.
As for buying stuff, easy, only on the end of the transaction does it round up or down. Talking a couple cents here and would be part of sales tax. And then that would only have to be on a cash purchase, cards wouldn't matter. Should balance out tax wise. Easy to do. Lets do it now please.
I think its time
Feb 15, 2013 3:03PM
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Hey, Oblama.  Remember the VW commercial?  A penny saved is a penny earned?  The commercial where to his brother, whose motto was spend, spend, spend, I leave nothing, nothing, nothing.

Fools, we should have axed the effen penny years ago.

Feb 15, 2013 3:01PM
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Jer54

 

That's funny, I though he was just answering a question that was asked of him.  It's not an agenda or even something he has brough up before, but somehow you turn it into something else to berate the President over.  Though I may not agree with all of his policies or agendas I do give him the respect that the office of the POTUS deserves.  You sir are the POS.  What have you done today to improve upon the lives of your fellow citizens?

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