Contact: Mark Weller
For Immediate Release: November 2, 2007
WASHINGTON, DC – Illinois Representative Peter Roskam introduced legislation yesterday to change the metal of the composition of the penny to steel. According to Roskam, other countries have adjusted the metal content of some or all of their circulating coins given the increase in metal prices. He urged the United States should do the same thing by adopting H.R. 4036.
Wide swings in metal prices around the world
have impacted the cost of the penny and other U.S. coins. In fact, the
U.S. Mint has stated publicly that it now costs almost a dime – 9.5
cents – to make a nickel.
Mark Weller, Executive Director of Americans for Common Cents, said Congress and the Mint should explore ways to make coins more cost effectively. “Americans benefit from the penny,” Weller said. “The country and individual consumers would be harmed, however, if a discussion of alternative metals turned into an effort to eliminate the penny,” he added.
Since hitting an all time high in December 2006, the price of zinc (the primary metal in the penny) has dropped to half that level in less than a year. “That is exactly why we should not overreact to short-term metal price fluctuations and consider eliminating the penny,” Weller noted. Stabilization of zinc prices is consistent with historical patterns and a trend that may continue as more suppliers enter the marketplace around the globe. Since 1982, the Mint has made more than $800 from penny production.
Weller noted that the government will not save money with penny elimination. “The nickel costs more to make than the penny, so it’s hard to see how you save money by making more nickels,” Weller said. Economic research has shown that consumers would be hit with a minimum of a $600 million annual rounding tax without the penny, since prices would be rounded to the nickel without the penny.
Americans for Common Cents is a broad based and informal coalition of charitable organizations, historians, coin collectors and those involved in penny production who share a common interest in the penny’s history and continued circulation.