The Download: Time To Ditch The Penny?

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(Photo Credit: Fox 8 News)

By Gregory Wallace

(CNN) — President Barack Obama has weighed in with his two cents on the 1-cent coin.

But penny pinchers looking for a plan to make the penny less expensive may be disappointed.

Obama fielded a question about the coin in a “Google Hangout” online chat on Thursday. For the time being, he’ll continue to allow those short on change to take a penny and leave a penny.

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“We all remember, at least those of us of a certain age — some of you are a lot younger than me — but we remember our piggy banks and counting up all our pennies and taking them in, gettin’ a dollar bill or couple dollars from them. And maybe that’s the reason why people haven’t gotten around to it,” Obama said.

Minting the coin costs a pretty penny — two of them, in fact. The U.S. Mint say the production and shipping costs for one penny is 2 cents, and the costs pile up. Last year the Mint handled some 5.8 billion pennies.

There are arguments that to continue use of the penny would be a pound foolish, but also the sentimental arguments such as the one Obama made.

And, as the president said, eliminating the penny “is not gonna be a huge savings for government.”

He did allow that “anytime we’re spending more money on something that people don’t actually use, that’s an example of something we should probably change,” he said.

But there’s also a larger message to a government that hardly has a penny to its name.

“One of the things that you see chronically in government is it’s very hard to get rid of things that don’t work so that we can then invest in the things that do,” he said. “The penny, I think, ends up being a good metaphor for some of the larger problems we got.”