Not that this is the source of the long-term budget deficit or anything, but as long as we’re looking at small-bore spending cuts, before we take away poor people’s subsidized heating oil maybe it would be smart to take a look at the sorry state of our physical money. According to the inflation calculator, a penny in 1970 would be worth five cents in 2009 dollars. I wasn’t alive in 1970, but many of this site’s readers were. Were people walking around forty years ago saying “damn, these pennies have too much purchasing power, we really need a coin worth one-fifth that much?” I doubt that they were. So let’s stop wasting money minting pennies.
Similarly, the 1970 quarter is worth even more than today’s paper dollar bill. If we stop printing paper dollars, people will get used to using dollar coins which are much more durable and won’t need frequent replacement. Again, money saved. And in both cases, nobody in need would suffer at all. You can’t balance the budget with this kind of small change (ha ha ha) but it really doesn’t make sense to waste money, and as long as we’re having a misguided conversation about short-term spending cuts some genuine waste deserves to be on the table.