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Obama sparks debate on pennies

Feb. 16, 2013 at 12:44 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said he is open to the idea of eliminating the penny, but experts say that's not a good idea.

During a Google+ hangout Thursday, Obama was asked why America still has the penny, Politico reported.

"I don't know," Obama said. "It's one of those things where I think people get attached emotionally to the way things have been. ... We remember our piggy banks and counting up all our pennies and then taking them in and getting a dollar bill or a couple dollars from them -- and maybe that's the reason why people haven't gotten around to it."

One penny costs about 2.41 cents to produce and the United States spends about $116.4 million annually making them.

"The penny is something I need legislation for and frankly, given all the big issues, we're not able to get to it," Obama said.

However, experts say eliminating the penny would lead to inflation for customers.

"We certainly need to look at ways to make our coins less expensive," Mark Weller, executive director of Americans for Common Cents, a pro-penny advocacy group, told Politico. "But consumers lose when you don't have a penny because business owners would round prices up instead of down."

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