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The U.S. Mint is issuing regulations to "prohibit, with certain exceptions, the melting or treatment of all one-cent and 5-cent coins."
Inflation is the deliberate policy of the U.S. Government and has been ever since the creation of the Federal Reserve. The government forced us off the gold standard in 1933, ended silver coinage in the 1960s, and in 1982 even had to debase the penny from mostly copper to mostly zinc. Now the copper content of pre-1982 pennies, and the nickel content of nickels, are worth more than the face values of the coins. People are naturally interested in selling them as scrap metal instead of using them as currency.
The U.S. Mint is overreaching — these regulations are illegal. The proper scope of regulation is only "to make regular" certain things or activities, to lay down rules about how they are to be done. The power to regulate is not the power to prohibit. Only a legislative body like the U.S. Congress has the authority to issue prohibitions and set criminal consequences.
I intend to submit a comment about this rule once I've read it, but the press release is only a summary and the rule itself has not been published yet. I called the Mint to ask where I could find it and they said it won't be published until tomorrow in the Federal Register, despite their press release today saying "The interim rule appears on the United States Mint website."
They should have held the press release until the rule was published. That was bad of them. But I can wait a day…
Actually, Congress did give the Secretary this power, and quite explicitly, in 31USC5111(d)(1). Read this for more information.