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Cheaper Penny and Nickel Could Be Produced in Near Future

Image: Cheaper Penny and Nickel Could Be Produced in Near Future

By Newsmax Wires   |   Wednesday, 05 Mar 2014 08:33 AM

A cheaper penny and nickel could soon be produced by the U.S. Treasury if President Barack Obama gets his way, resulting in alternative, cheaper metals being used to create the American coinage, for which production hasn't been changed for more than 30 years.

The fiscal 2015 budget, released on Tuesday, points out that the coins' manufacturing and circulation have not changed in decades and that the Treasury Department has been reviewing the coins' production, Reuters reported.

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Obama has proposed similar reviews in the past but the measures stalled despite not being partisan points of contention.

The budget does not include a specific cost savings figure for the potential changes but it identifies the rise of electronic commerce as a reason to review the coins' makeup and distribution.

Obama's 2014 budget had pegged the cost of manufacturing a penny at two cents and the price of a nickel at 11 cents.

Though pennies are frequently referred to as the copper coin, since 1982 the significantly less expensive zinc is the predominant ingredient, representing approximately 97.5 percent of a penny's mass while the remaining 2.5 percent is a copper coating, CNN reported.

In comparison, Nickels actually have substantially more copper than pennies, being comprised of 75 percent copper and 25 percent nickel, CNN noted. The nickel's composition has not changed since World War II.

Past attempts to change penny and nickel production have faced resistance from interest groups. A 2010 Wall Street Journal report noted the Coin Laundry Association was one such group resisting a change, due to the "unintended consequences that could deeply impact the small-business owner during a recession."

The budget, which lays out the president's policy priorities ahead of November's midterm elections, has little chance of becoming law. Still, it provides a path for Democrats, who are hoping to retain a majority in the Senate but face an uphill battle to cut down on Republicans' majority in the House of Representatives.

Responding to the proposed budget, House Speaker John Boehner told reporters that "In the president’s vision for our future, America’s budget never balances — ever," while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell described it as a "political stunt" intended to "[fire] up the president’s base."

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