WASHINGTON – A penny for your thoughts? Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson thinks the answer to that question should be not much. In fact, if he had his way, he would like to get rid of the penny.
Asked Friday whether he thought the penny should be eliminated, Paulson agreed that it would make sense, saying, "The penny is worth less than any other currency."
However, he quickly added that he didn't think it was "politically doable" to eliminate the one-cent coin and it wasn't something he planned to tackle in the final year of the Bush administration.
"I've got enough challenges to take on," he said in an interview on the "Spike O'Dell Show" on Chicago's WGN radio.
O'Dell also asked Paulson, who made a fortune as the head of investment giant Goldman Sachs before joining the Bush Cabinet, how much money he carried in his pocket.
"I walk around with very little cash in my pocket," he said, depending instead on credit cards "like everyone else."
Paulson said he did carry a few dollar bills with him to sign for people who ask for autographs. The signatures of the Treasury secretary and the U.S. Treasurer are carried on not just the dollar bill but all U.S. currency.
Asked about Paulson's penny comments, Treasury spokeswoman Brookly McLaughlin said that Treasury has not taken any steps to eliminate the penny but is considering changing the metal content to lower production costs.
"To address the growing cost of producing the penny, we have asked Congress for the authority to adjust the metal content in our coins," she said.