There's More Talk Today About Abolishing the Penny

The production of the penny doesn't make cents.

Last year, it cost 1.5 cents to manufacture the coin, which is only worth one cent.  According to the U.S. Mint, production costs topped $46 million.

This is the 11th straight year that it cost more to make a penny than its face value.  While there has long been a push to stop making it, former Director of the U.S. Mint Philip Diehl says, because of the skyrocketing cost of precious metals, now might be the time to do it.

"It really has no useful role in commerce," he tells Newsradio 1200 WOAI.  "The environmental costs, including the mining and production, it just doesn’t make sense."

Diehl, who now heads U.S. Money Reserve in Austin, says he would have loved to ditch the penny when he was in charge, but there was always opposition, especially from fans of President Abraham Lincoln.

"Any times the issue comes up, the Illinois delegation is opposed to it.  The speaker of the House was from Illinois back in the day when I was director of the Mint," he explains.

Some economists oppose the elimination of the penny, claiming it would be a defacto tax hike.  

Diehl says businesses are just as like to round down as opposed to rounding up.  And if Congress were worried about it, they could insert language instructing retailers to round down.

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