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Roskam Authors Bill to Save Taxpayers $1 Billion with a Penny

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Congressman Peter J. Roskam (R-IL) yesterday introduced the Cents and Sensibility Act of 2007, H.R. 4036, which will change the material of the penny to save taxpayers more than $1 billion over 10 years.

"If the American people want a simple example of how the government wastes its hard earned tax dollars they don't need to look further than the loose change in their pocket," said Roskam. "Currently, the penny costs more to produce than it is worth. By merely changing the metallic composition of the penny my legislation will save taxpayers more than $1 billion over the next decade."

Since March of 2003, world demand for core metals has driven up the price of copper by 300 percent. Currently, the cost to produce the penny is 1.7 cents. This legislation will change the composite material of the penny from copper coated zinc alloy to copper coated steel, similar to the material Canada uses. When produced with copper coated steel the penny's production cost is reduced to only 7/10 of a cent, for a savings of 1 cent per penny produced.

It would further reduce the cost to the taxpayer by requiring the Treasury to submit a report to the Congress with recommendations on how to modify the metallic content of the nickel, dime, quarter and half dollar. Subsequent changes to these coins would save taxpayers untold billions of dollars.

"It is simply unacceptable for Congress to sit on its hands while taxpayer dollars are thrown out the window," continued Roskam. "If the American government were a business they would have changed the composition of the penny years ago. Inaction on all fronts of wasteful government spending is one of the biggest frustrations among the people of my congressional district. I will continue to fight Congress's wasteful spending at every turn."

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