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PENNIES-LOBBYING

Freshly-made pennies gleam under the lights at the U.S. Mint in Denver. Pennies cost more than twice as much as they are worth. Like Canada, America should go penniless.

Canada just got something done that, here in the United States, our leaders keep talking and talking and talking about.

Canada last week minted its last penny.

Our neighbors to the north expect to save $11 million a year on the move because the penny costs more to make than it's actually worth.

The same is true in America, where it costs more than 2 cents to make one penny, according to CNN Money.

President Barack Obama has proposed using less expensive metal when minting pennies and nickels.

But Congress should go further: Let's ditch the penny and the paper dollar bill.

Pennies, a victim of inflation, are worth so little they're a nuisance. Vending machines and parking meters don't accept them. Pennies needlessly complicate store transactions. Most people won't even bend over to pick a penny off the sidewalk anymore.

Some skeptics worry shopkeepers will round up their prices to the nearest nickel if we going penniless, costing consumers money. But researchers in Canada and the United States have debunked the theory. Rounding would be a wash.

Instead of minting billions of coins worth virtually nothing, America should mint a dollar coin to replace its paper dollar bill.

Canada got rid of its paper dollar bill decades ago. And the Government Accountability Office here in the United States estimates our federal government could save $5.6 billion over 30 years by phasing out the $1 bill and replacing it with a new $1 coin.

The new coin would be easier to spot and use than the Susan B. Anthony $1 coin, which was often mistaken for a quarter.

Coins also last for decades. Bills survive in circulation for only a few years on average.

It's really a simple decision, free from the usual partisan silliness and sniping that so often stops things from getting done in Washington, D.C.

We don't need the worthless penny anymore. A dollar coin — without a dollar bill — makes so much more sense.

Congress, including and especially Wisconsin's delegation, should show it isn't totally dysfunctional by getting this done.

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