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Money matters

Treasury secretary refuses to commit to Obama administration’s pledge to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill

By WITW Staff on August 31, 2017

United States Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin refused on Thursday to commit to his predecessor’s plan to replace Andrew Jackson’s image on the $20 bill with one of Harriet Tubman. During an interview with CNBC’s Steve Liesman, Mnuchin said, “Ultimately we’ll be looking at this issue. It’s not something that I’m focused on at the moment,” and added, “But the number-one issue why we change the currency is to stop counterfeiting, so the issues of why we change it will be primarily related to what we need to do for security purposes and I’ve received classified briefings on that. That’s what I’m focused on for the moment.”

In April of 2016, the Treasury Department announced plans to replace Andrew Jackson on the twenty with famed Civil War-era abolitionist Harriet Tubman, a move that would make her the first woman to appear on U.S. paper currency in 100 years. That plan was swiftly met with resistance by congressman Steve King of Iowa who attempted to block the Treasury from putting Tubman on the twenty. But his measure failed miserably. This, however, was all before the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president, and Trump has expressed his admiration for Jackson on numerous occasions and even had a portrait of Old Hickory hung in the Oval Office.

While he was still a candidate, Trump hinted that Tubman may never make it to the front of the $20 bill if he made it to the White House. During an interview on NBC’s Today show, Trump said, “Andrew Jackson had a great history. I think it’s very rough when you take somebody off the bill. Andrew Jackson had a history of tremendous success for the country.”

Mnuchin’s remarks likely flow from Trump’s thinking on the issue. When Liesman pressed the Treasury secretary about cultural issues also being at play behind the decision to put Tubman on the currency, Mnuchin responded, “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.”

And, yes, that’s the same Steve Mnuchin whose wife ended up apologizing for an ‘inappropriate and highly insensitive’ Instagram rant that drew widespread condemnation.

Read the full story at CNBC.


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