Last April, it was announced that Harriet Tubman would replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill, a decision that at the time seemed perfectly viable. Back then, we had a black, sane president, and his successor was poised to be the first woman to ever hold that office. Things weren’t perfect, but they were stable. Fast forward to present day, where everything is burning and Harriet Tubman is probably never gonna get her bill.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin expressed doubt about the bill’s update to CNBC on Thursday, telling the network that it’s “not something I’m focused on at the moment.” So...what is he focused on?
“The No. 1 issue why we change the currency is to stop counterfeiting. So the issues of what we change will be primarily related to what we need to do for security purposes. I’ve received classified briefings on that. And that’s what I’m focused on for the most part,” Mnuchin said.
“People have been on the bills for a long period of time. And this is something we will consider. Right now, we’ve got a lot more important issues to focus on,” he added.
Designs for the new currency, approved by then-Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, were scheduled to be finalized in 2020, in order to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. But Trump himself was clear at the time about his reservations, saying on the Today Show that he would “love to leave Andrew Jackson and see if we can maybe come up with another denomination.” Perhaps, he suggested, Tubman could settle for the $2 bill? From CNBC:
While Trump complimented Tubman, he said at the time that he didn’t agree with replacing Jackson on the denomination. “I don’t like seeing it. Yes, I think it’s pure political correctness. Been on the bill [Jackson] for many, many years. And, you know, really represented somebody that really was very important to this country.
Trump has made very public his love for Jackson, and even traveled to Tennessee in March to celebrate the former president and slave owner’s 250th birthday at his plantation. He described Jackson’s presidency as a model for his own, declaring ominously: “Wait till you see what’s going to be happening pretty soon, folks.”
The Obama administration originally wanted to put a woman on the $10 bill, but amended its decision amid outrage from those dying to keep Alexander Hamilton where he was. Instead, Lew that Jackson would be shunted to the back of the $20, and that women would be added to the backs of $5 and $10 bills.
Though he knew at the time that all of these decisions were all contingent on the blessing of the incoming president, it hardly seemed possible that there’d be much debate.
“I don’t think somebody’s going to probably want to do that—to take the image of Harriet Tubman off of our money? To take the image of the suffragists off?” he said.
At least there’s always the DIY route.