NPR : News

Filed Under:

Obama Seeks To Change Change; Shift Looms For Pennies And Nickels

The Obama administration has already reined in production of $1 coins. Now it's looking to give the Treasury more leeway in minting some coins that have gotten more expensive than their face value — specifically, pennies and nickels.

Those provisions are in President Obama's proposed 2013 budget, under a section titled "Increased Flexibility for the U.S. Mint in Coinage."

The 2012 model penny is made up of 97.5 percent zinc, and 2.5 percent copper. This year's nickel is 25 percent nickel; the rest is made of copper.

And you've likely heard — or experienced for yourself — that copper prices have been on a tear; zinc has also risen.

"This contributes to volatile and negative margins on both the penny and nickel," according to the White House budget. "Recently, the penny has cost approximately 2.4 cents, and the nickel approximately 11.2 cents to produce."

The Mint will need some time to research the best alternatives, according to administration documents.

Still, the Treasury will have a hard time making pennies pay for themselves, according to CNN Money's Chris Isidore. As he notes, "the administrative cost of minting 4.3 billion pennies costs almost a half-cent per coin by itself, leaving precious little room to make a penny for less than a cent, no matter the raw material used."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit


French Bulldog At Heart Of New Children's Book 'Naughty Mabel'

Mabel is a naughty French bulldog at the center of a new children's book by Nathan Lane and Devlin Elliott. NPR's Scott Simon speaks with Lane about his inspiration for the fictional dog.

How Do We Get To Love At 'First Bite'?

It's the season of food, and British food writer Bee Wilson has a book on how our food tastes are formed. NPR's Scott Simon speaks with her about her new book, "First Bite: How We Learn to Eat."

Snapshots 2016: Trump's Message Resonates With A Master Cabinet Maker

From time to time during this election season we'll be introducing you to ordinary people that our reporters meet out on the campaign trail. Today: a snapshot from a Donald Trump rally in New Hampshire.

What Is Li-Fi And When Will You Use It To Download Everything Faster?

Li-Fi is a lot like Wi-Fi, but it uses light to transmit data. NPR's Scott Simon speaks to the man who invented the faster alternative: Harald Haas.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.