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Last sync:2018-05-11 15:00
In which John stumps the president.
Steve Grove: Next we have John Green. John is the co-creator, with his brother Hank, of the popular VlogBrothers channel on YouTube. John is also, John is also a #1 New York Times Bestselling author. He is coming to us from Indianapolis, Indiana. John: Hi, Mr. President. Obama: Hi, John. John: Hi, Mr. President. So uh, almost all economists agree that we should stop minting pennies. Uh, in addition to costing more than a penny to mint, uh they're really economically inefficient because they don't work as currency; I mean you can't even use them in public tollbooths. Uh, I uh, this is a pet issue of mine, I guess. I know it's a small issue; we're talking about maybe saving the federal government $100,000,000 over the course of ten years, but it's also really obvious. Australia, Canada, New Zealand, many other countries have gotten rid of their pennies, and they haven't seen prices rise. And it hasn't been an issue at all. It's a really obvious thing. It's not a particularly interesting thing or partisan thing, but it's really obvious. So my question to you is why haven't we done it? Obama: You know, I've gotta tell you John, I don't know. Uh, it's one of those things where, I think, people get attached emotionally to the way things have been. I mean, we all remember, at least those of a certain age - some of you are a lot younger than me - but we remember our piggy banks, and counting up all our pennies, and then taking them in and getting a dollar bill or a couple dollars from... And maybe that's the reason why people haven't gotten around to it. I will tell you that you're right; this will not be a huge savings for government. But anytime we're spending more money on something that people don't actually use, that's an example of something that we should probably change. And one of the things you see chronically in government, is - it's very hard to get rid of things that don't work so that we can then invest in things that do. And the penny ends up being, I think, a good metaphor for some of the larger problems that we've got. I'll give you an example. Uh, we have probably 16 different agencies dealing with businesses. Small business, large business, exports, domestic, lending, marketing, all kinds of stuff we do. A lot of those services are really good, but there in a bunch of different agencies. And so the average small business person, a lot of times, has no idea where to go and how to access this help that could help them build their small business or help them sell overseas. What I've said to Congress is, 'Give me the authority to reorganize agencies that were designed back in the 1930's for a twenty-first century economy.' And we'll have one agency that deals with all kinds of business issues. It will streamline our operations, reduce overhead, make us more customer friendly. And the problem, the reason we can't do it is because Congress hasn't given me the authority and part because the way Congress works is that committee jurisdictions are spread out, matching these various agencies. And so there may be some members of Congress who say, 'Well, I don't want to give up this little piece of leverage that I've got over a particular agency, even though it's not efficient.' So we're constantly trying to reduce these inefficiencies. We've made some progress: eliminating paperwork, going back and looking over regulations that don't work, et cetera. Everything we can do administratively, we're prepared to do. But the penny is an example of something I need legislation for, and frankly given all the big issues that we have to deal with day in day out, a lot of times it just doesn't, you know, we're not able to get to it.