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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468Comments
Feb 15, 2013 3:51PM
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By the time this guy is done with this country, all we will be left with is our pennies. Now he wants to do away with those too. I guess we don't get change either way....

Feb 15, 2013 3:48PM
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We could always give the job of making our pennies to China; seems that they make most of our consumables anyway.  I'm sure it would be cheaper.  I'm just wondering if they would put 'made in China' somewhere on the coin.  Ha!!
Feb 15, 2013 3:46PM
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The executive powers used by Mr. Obama are constitutionally mandated to the office of the president. Like it or not, he won re-election, despite trick in states run by conservative governors; voter registration fraud, blocking the polls to long-time voters, ID requirements for citizens born in this nation, to name a few. I am not offended by the position of the right, you are your own worst enemies, and my only concern is that you put personal bias before national interests. You guys suffer from foot-in-mouth disease, and you refuse to seek treatment. The prognosis is grim.
Feb 15, 2013 3:45PM
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If we get rid of the penny will we still be able to use the phrase "penny for your thoughts"?
Feb 15, 2013 3:44PM
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That's government for you.

THE USPS JUST NOW WENT TO 46c PER STAMP ...THEREBY DEMANDING THE USE OF PENNIES !

 

Feb 15, 2013 3:44PM
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Cut the BS spending, Cut the wasting of money on false "Wars", cut the expansion of Government, keep the penny, dump the "Pay raise crew" in W-DC.
Feb 15, 2013 3:44PM
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False assumption that it costs more to produce than it's worth to the government.  Every time it changes hands in view of the government it produces revenue for the government.  So a penny probably "makes" the government far in excess of it's value over it's lifetime.

 

If you want to get rid of something that is costing us more that it's bringing in, get rid of Obama.

Feb 15, 2013 3:44PM
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Well, it's NOT our "smallest" coin per the title.  The dime is smaller than the penny.  Also, it is not actually a "penny".  It's a "one cent" coin.  Penny comes from British currency.  We do not use British currency in the United States.  And the photo is of the previous design on the reverse side.  (Fail!)  The current reverse of the one cent coin is a shield containing the "E PLURIBUS  UNUM" (From many, one) motto and a ribbon superimposed in front containing the words "One Cent".  (It does not state "One Penny").  
The coin is made of zinc.  Copper was phased out years ago due to its rising cost.  The only opposition to the idea of eliminating the "One Cent" coin comes from Zinc interests and producers.
Also, the most a consumer can "lose" due to the elimination of the One Cent coin is two cents per transaction.  Over the course of a year, (with averaging) a consumer is unlikely to "lose" more than $1 to $2 all year long.  It's time to eliminate the One Cent coin.  
Feb 15, 2013 3:42PM
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Penny are a mess and waste of time, get rid of it! What is it that everything we buy has to end in 99 any ways? If something is $9.99 it's $10 come on now! I don't know how many time I have said its $20 and some old person corrects me and says,"you mean $19.99?" For real your gonna waste my time about one cent! Get over it, 
Feb 15, 2013 3:42PM
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I was stationed overseas in the USAF.  At the military exchanges pennies were not used.  Prices were rounded up or down to the nearest nickle.  It was so nice not having to deal with pennies!  Pennies are a part of our history and I can understand some people having a real attachment to them.  However, their denomination is next to pointless in todays economy.  In addition, their production wastes resources and frankly, they are a pain in the neck.  If we need President Lincoln's name on a coin, perhaps we could have a Lincoln quarter?
Feb 15, 2013 3:42PM
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Why not go ahead and do away with the One dollar bill.  The dollar coin last much longer and only makes sense.  Why is the US always behind in making good decisions.  Let's get it done.
Feb 15, 2013 3:41PM
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All the pennies add up! 70 MILLION is a start towards 3.5 trillion. The Congress needs to start working for the people or the people will remove all of them. Typical answer that its not a huge amount, but it all adds up.

Feb 15, 2013 3:40PM
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my fault, bad math... but hey, it would make a great speech topic..... 'doubling the miles a car goes on a gallon.....'
Feb 15, 2013 3:40PM
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"Someone" said, "Keep the penny. . . dump Obama."

Sounds like a good idea to me. 

 

If there were no sales tax, it might work, but businesses

will just round-up to the nearest 5-cents & the

consumer will end up paying more than if the Govt.

has to spend 0.6 cents to produce the penny!

Feb 15, 2013 3:39PM
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Oh my god. The people on here saying, "Oh, no, how will we make change?" "We're all going to get screwed because everyone will round up and take all of our money!!" Good lord, are you all idiots? Does anyone realize that if you stop making something, it doesn't magically destroy all of them in existence? There will still be, literally, trillions of these useless coins in circulation. What exactly is the problem? What; are they somehow going to break you four f***kin' cents at a time? Because that's the most they can "round up" your purchase. Also, no one complains about the tenth of a cent that gas stations have been rounding us up out of forever. Good lord this discussion is ridiculous.

I've never, NEVER, heard a good argument for why we should keep this coin. Not once. Never. If you had to spend $50,000 a year to travel to a job that paid you $40,000 a year, would you do it? NO, you wouldn't unless you were a freakin' moron. So why would anyone, ANYONE, want to spend twice as much to make something as it's worth?? And, it doesn't even perform a useful function in society anymore; how often do you see "leave a penny" boxes in convenience stores? Really, when people are just putting the coins in a box for others to have, I'm pretty sure it's a useless bit of money. C'mon, now, let's get this done.
Feb 15, 2013 3:39PM
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wow... we spent 10.5 billion dollars to make 5 billion unnecessary coins? have to beleiev that there are enough pennies out there that it is not necessary to make more. no wonder we are broke. "hey, let's make some more pennies for the fountain.... oh, and send some F-16's to Egypt"

 where was that vote?

Feb 15, 2013 3:39PM
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I'm a diehard republican and hope BO pushes this through; he is right and it's such a no-brainer that it's pathetic that we can't act on these practical business decisions. 
Feb 15, 2013 3:38PM
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Just stop making them....is that so damn hard to figure out. There must be enough pennies in existence to last for a thousand years without making any more. It's not like they'll wear out any time soon.
Feb 15, 2013 3:38PM
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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.....

Dont we know it, Obama being one of these things.

 

Looks like there were more moochers at the polls than there were workers ( aka tax payers).

Feb 15, 2013 3:37PM
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