Trump has never been too keen on the Obama-planned makeover of the $20 bill, which would replace slave-owning President Andrew Jackson with escaped slave, abolitionist, and suffragette Harriet Tubman. As a candidate, Trump said that the change was “pure political correctness” and proposed that Tubman get the consolation prize of the $2 bill. In June 2018, the administration admitted that the overhaul, originally scheduled for 2020, was officially on the back burner.
In a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin gave a new timeline for the Tubman bill: 2028. He cited a “security feature redesign” and anti-counterfeiting efforts as the reason for kicking the decision past even a second Trump term.
But the New York Times reported a second basis for keeping Jackson on the $20: “Mr. Mnuchin, concerned that the president might create an uproar by canceling the new bill altogether, was eager to delay its redesign until Mr. Trump was out of office, some senior Treasury Department officials have said.”
Aside from the “political correctness” of replacing the image of a man that represents the worst of American history with a woman who represents its resiliency and hard-fought demands of progress, there are two obvious reasons for Trump to be a fan of the Jackson $20. First, it’s consistent with his overall policy goal of erasing Obama’s legacy, and second, Trump just really likes Andrew Jackson, a fellow wealthy populist who dabbled in constitutional crises. And as New York’s Ed Kilgore notes, Trump has a foreign policy orientation that Jackson would recognize: Both presidents “oppose entangling alliances and international nation-building exercises, but not only accept but welcome massive violence when America is ‘crossed.’”