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September 1 2017

A $20 Question: Will Harriet Tubman be on the Bill?

by Patrice Lee Onwuka

Harriet Tubman may or may not make it onto the $20 bill, but of all the priorities like tax reform and tax cuts, is this really worth the ire?

In an interview yesterday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was asked about plans from the Obama Administration to replace the image of President Andrew Jackson with the abolitionist and former slave, Harriet Tubman. He responded:

"Ultimately we will be looking at this issue. It's not something I'm focused on at the moment." 

Instead, he said he was concentrating on making sure any tweaks to U.S. currency bills thwart counterfeiters.

"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.

Progressives were quick to pounce on the statement such as former Bernie Sanders for President communications director, Symone D. Sanders, tweeting:

@SymoneDSanders: THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IS COMING FOR HARRIET YALL!!!  21h21 hours ago

And never one to miss a chance to stay relevant, Chelsea Clinton also tweeted:

Hope Sec. Mnuchin visits the #HarrietTubman Underground Railroad Center to learn, well, clearly a lot... It's a ~2 hr drive from his officeHope Sec. Mnuchin visits the #HarrietTubman Underground Railroad Center to learn, well, clearly a lot... It's a ~2 hr drive from his office

The New York Times also reinforced this idea that Mnuchin is against Tubman going on the $20 bill because of President Trump’s admiration for Jackson:

President Trump, who has described himself as a “big fan” of the populist rabble-rousing president from Tennessee, made clear as a candidate that he didn’t like the proposal to replace Jackson.

“I would love to leave Andrew Jackson and see if we can maybe come up with another denomination,” he said in April 2016, after the decision was announced.

At the time, Mr. Trump mentioned the $2 bill for Tubman. It circulates in the smallest volume of any bill, about seven times less than the $20. “I think it would be more appropriate,” he said.

Mr. Trump has not addressed the issue since becoming president, but he traveled to Tennessee in March to celebrate Jackson’s 250th birthday. His visit included laying a wreath at the former president’s tomb at The Hermitage, the plantation where Jackson kept more than 100 slaves. Mr. Trump described Jackson’s presidency as a model for his own, portraying Jackson as a populist hero who had fought against government corruption.

If only facts spurred the constant status of outrage in our nation – often driven by an anti-Trump agenda.

Mnuchin did not say he cancelled plans to redesign the $20 bill or that Tubman wouldn’t be on the bill. Harriet Tubman’s face gracing a U.S. note is a worthy choice and one we supported since she was announced.

However, Mnuchin said his focus is on fighting counterfeit money and that little matter of tax reform – an issue that is important for strengthening our economy and the bank accounts of families. Let’s not lose sight of that goal.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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