President Obama Backs Dumping The Penny

President Obama seems to like the idea of getting rid of America’s most economically inefficient form of currency:

President Obama on Thursday said he supports eliminating pennies, but that it’s unlikely to happen because it’s so low on the list of congressional priorities.

In a Google Plus “Hangout,” Obama was asked why the U.S. Treasury continues to mint pennies even though the cost to mint them is more than they’re worth.

“I got to tell you, I don’t know,” Obama said. “It’s one of those things where people get attached emotionally to the way things have been.”

The president said the penny was a good metaphor for other inefficiencies in Washington that become institutionalized.

“Any time we’re spending money on something people aren’t going to use, that’s something that should change,” Obama added.

Or, in this case, when it cost the government more to make a penny than a penny is actually worse, and people tend to just put the thing in spare change jars rather than actually using it, it’s something that should change. Of course, it’s been attempted before and, between the mining interests out west and the “Land of Lincoln” people in Illinois, it’s never gotten anywhere. I doubt Obama’s going to waste much political capital on it.

FILED UNDER: US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. John Peabody says:

    Junk it! Junk it!

  2. mantis says:

    President Obama seems to like the idea of getting rid of America’s most economically inefficient form of currency:

    Then we can expect Republicans across the country to come out in lockstep against the idea. The penny will now become a symbol of our struggle against Socialism/Fascism/Kenyan anti-colonialism.

  3. wr says:

    @mantis: Banning the penny is clearly the first step towards confiscating all guns.

  4. john personna says:

    I blame Obama

  5. Tony W says:

    Ha ha, I get it – something has to “change”…

  6. edmondo says:

    President Obama Backs Dumping The Penny

    and Bill Clinton was in favor of school uniforms. And Mitt Romney wanted to be president because this is the “most powerful office in the world”?


  7. john personna says:


    We are all ahead of you on “WTF.”

    Scrapping the penny should be easy, without any negatives whatsoever, and with positive financial returns for us all. So much so that any rational government would have done so long ago. Perhaps when the nickle reached the buying power of a 1950 penny. (The nickle currently buys as much as did a 1972-1973 penny.)

    So all we have are jokes, because the reality is far too sad to face.

  8. Tyrell says:

    Explain how purchasing would work in which totals would come up to amounts like 53¢ or $1.07?
    Would tax rates have to be adjusted or prices? How can you get every purchase to come out to a 0 or a 5 ?

  9. bill says:

    @Tyrell: in cash based shops they would probably still use them until they were smelted down- rounding would have to be the rule at that level. when you figure that we really aren’t a “cash based’ society anymore as most of us use credit/debit cards it get’s easier. i’m sure bank accounts will reflect “cents” in accounts. and someone would figure out how to make money on it, and so on/so forth.
    the penny is worth even less since obama took office anyway, one of his best ideas yet- i knew he had it in him.

  10. Tyrell says:

    Does that mean that my 47 jars of pennies will someday be worth a lot ? I have not gone through all of them to get out the pennies that are rare to add to my collection.
    I almost always pay cash. I have a debit card around here somewhere. And that rounding off thing does not sound good – they will jump on that as a way to raise prices. Especially the gas stations.