President Obama on Thursday said he supports eliminating pennies, but that it’s unlikely to happen because it’s so low on the list of congressional priorities.

In a Google Plus “Hangout,” Obama was asked why the U.S. Treasury continues to mint pennies even though the cost to mint them is more than they’re worth.


“I got to tell you, I don’t know,” Obama said. “It’s one of those things where people get attached emotionally to the way things have been.”

The president said the penny was a good metaphor for other inefficiencies in Washington that become institutionalized.

“Any time we’re spending money on something people aren’t going to use, that’s something that should change,” Obama added.

He argued he has asked Congress for the authority to reorganize inefficient agencies to perpetuate a more modern federal infrastructure, but said until Congress grants him that authority, it was up to them to act on eliminating the penny.

“The penny is something I need legislation for, and frankly given all the big issues, we’re not able to get to it,” he said.

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