Amid Debt Mess, Renewed Calls to Kill the Lowly Penny

Gov't could save millions each year by dropping the one-cent coin
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2011 12:02 PM CDT
With the cost of making the penny rising, people are increasingly calling for the end of the one-cent coin.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Calls to ditch the penny—which cost 1.79 cents apiece to manufacture last year—are nothing new. But with budget-slashing and debt-reducing on America's mind, proponents of the move are renewing their call, reports Politico. So is the time finally right? Many think so. The US Mint lost $42.6 million making pennies and nickels coins last year due to rising metal costs. "Doing away with [the penny] doesn’t raise taxes and it doesn’t eliminate services. That’s a good deal," says a former congressman.

"Congress has to cut, and this is about as painless a cost-saver as there is," agrees an economist. For now, the US Mint is looking for alternative, cheaper materials to make the penny and nickel, despite opposition from the zinc industry. "With the economy as bad as it is, doing away with the penny is one of the worst things you could do to consumers,” counters the leader of a pro-penny group—largely funded by the zinc industry, unsurprisingly.

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