President Obama Thinks It's Time to Retire Penny

President Barack Obama finally broke his silence on an issue of national importance Friday - he thinks it's time to retire the penny.

The possible extinction of the one-cent coin was a featured economic question in a Google+ Hangout with the Commander in Chief last week as John Green, the co-creator of a popular YouTube channel, applied a little presidential peer pressure.

"Australia, Canada, New Zealand, many other countries have gotten rid of their pennies," Green said. "Why haven't we done it?"

"I gotta tell you, John, I don't know," Obama responded, adding, "Anytime we're spending money on something people don't actually use, that's an example of things we should probably change."

But why should anyone care? They're pennies. Aren't there more valuable things to worry about?

First, pennies actually cost more to make than they're worth. In 2012, every penny cost 2.41 cents to make - more than twice their face value.

And as zinc and copper - materials used in minting the penny - have become costlier due, in part, to manufacturing shifts in China, which are likely to raise costs further.

Granted, the total cost of minting pennies was only $58 million last year - less than one-tenth of a percent of total federal spending in 2012 - but groups like Citizens to Retire the U.S. Penny have long been making the economic case for getting rid of the penny (plus, the group adds, fishing for pennies adds about 2 seconds to each cash transaction per day).

"The penny is an example of something that I need legislation for," he said. "And, frankly, given all of the big issues that we have to deal with day-in/day-out, a lot of times it just doesn't -- you know, we're not able to get to it."

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