During an interview Thursday on CNBC, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin would not commit to following through on an Obama administration plan to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill in place of President Andrew Jackson.
The proposal to put Tubman, who was born into slavery and heroically led dozens of slaves to freedom, on the bill instead of the controversial slaveholding Jackson was put forward by Obama Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew in April 2016. Lew also proposed putting women on the back of the $5 and $10 bills, while leaving Alexander Hamilton and President Abraham Lincoln on the front of those notes. But the election of President Donald Trump may have ended those plans.
Mnuchin said to reporter Steve Liesman, who asked him if he supported that proposal, “Ultimately we will be looking at this issue, it’s not something that I’m focused on at the moment. 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. And that’s what I’m focused on for the moment.”
Liesman pressed Mnuchin harder, saying, “Certainly there are cultural aspects as to decisions we make as to who’s on what bills, right?”
Mnuchin responded, “People have been on the bills for a long period of time. This is something we’ll consider. Right now we’ve got a lot more important issues to focus on.”
Trump was critical of the plan to replace Jackson with Tubman while on the campaign trail. He said in April 2016 it would be “pure political correctness” to make the change, Fortune reports.
“Well, Andrew Jackson had a great history, and I think it’s very rough when you take someone off the bill,” Trump said on the “Today” show in April 2016. “I think Harriet Tubman is fantastic. I would love to leave Andrew Jackson and see if we can come up with another denomination. Maybe we can do the $2 bill?”