Hold on a second, Steve Mnuchin. Many of us thought the switch from Andrew Jackson to Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill was a done deal.
The U.S. secretary of the Treasury now says he’s thinking about it.
Former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew got it done before he left office. He moved to take former President Jackson off the bill and replace it with Harriet Tubman, the heroic abolitionist who fought to end slavery in this country. It was hailed at the time of the announcement as historic for a couple of key reasons.
First, Tubman would be the first woman whose face would adorn U.S. currency. Second, and this arguably is the big one, she is the first African-American.
President Barack Obama signed off on the change. Many Americans cheered the change. Now it appears to be open for discussion.
“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.
Is it just me or does that sound like he’s possibly tip-toeing around some secret issue?
I do hope Mnuchin isn’t backing away merely because this was an Obama administration initiative, or that the current president is seeking to curry favor with his “base,” which seems to detest anything associated with the name “Barack Obama.”
Tubman’s heroic efforts to end slavery should be honored. Meanwhile, Old Hickory owned slaves. Hmmm. One sought to end enslavement; the other was, well … you know.
Donald Trump offered his usual platitude during the 2016 campaign about Tubman. According to CNBC:
I think Harrriet Tubman is fantastic.” He added: “I would love to leave Andrew Jackson and see if we can maybe come up with another denomination. Maybe we do the $2 bill or we do another bill.”
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.
If you can figure out what candidate Trump was saying, then you’re far smarter than I am — which likely isn’t saying much.
Back to my original point: Don’t derail this change in the currency, Mr. Secretary. You can figure out the counterfeiting/security angle while staying true to your predecessor’s pledge to honor a true American hero.