Kill the Lincoln penny, and other ‘awesome’ news from Obama’s Google Hangout

President Obama participates in a "Fireside Hangout."
President Obama participates in a "Fireside Hangout."
Official White House Photo

President Barack Obama touched on a slew of issues in his second Google Hangout, repeating the major points from Tuesday’s State of the Union speech but also directly addressing the viability of the penny, the Benghazi hearings, drone strikes on American citizens, his daughters’ math and science skills, and the GOP blocking a confirmation vote  on Chuck Hagel’s nomination as secretary of defense.

The Internet chat, dubbed a “Fireside Hangout,” was modeled after Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Fireside Chats” and took place in the White House’s Roosevelt Room.

Here are a few points Obama touched on:

- On raising the minimum wage, Obama said, “Nobody is going to be getting rich on $9 an hour. They’re still going to be struggling. But it could make the difference between whether they are going to buy groceries or whether they’re going to a food bank.”

- On why the country hasn’t gotten rid of the penny yet, he said “I gotta tell you, John, I don’t know.” He expressed support for no longer producing pennies, and continued, “the penny ends up being a big metaphor for some of the larger problems that we’ve got.”

- In a longer response to a question about transparency, he said, “Congress is getting rid of things to ask” about Benghazi.

- Asked about drone strikes, he said, “There has never been a drone used on an American on American soil.” Obama said he wanted to work with Congress on oversight of these strikes, and said, “It is not sufficient for citizens to just take my word for it that we’re doing the right thing.”

- In a discussion about the role of women in science, he said Malia’s and Sasha’s math and science grades have been good, but neither of his daughters have settled on a career path yet.

- Responding to news that a vote on Chuck Hagel’s secretary of defense confirmation was blocked in the Senate, he said it’s “unfortunate that these kind of politics” persist and there’s a holdup while America continues to fight in Afghanistan. “There’s nothing in the Constitution that says somebody should get 60 votes,” he said.

One of the Hangout questioners was John Green, author of the bestselling young-adult novel “The Fault in our Stars” and, along with his brother Hank, a YouTube star with their VlogBrothers series. Green asked the president to help him name the new baby daughter that his wife is expecting. Obama refused to comply but, using a popular VlogBrothers and “nerdfighters” slogan, he urged Green, “Don’t forget to be awesome.”