Obama Officials: Uh, Actually, Trump Had Nothing To Do With The Delay Of The Harriet Tubman 20 Dollar Bill

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Posted: Jul 15, 2019 12:30 PM
Obama Officials: Uh, Actually, Trump Had Nothing To Do With The Delay Of The Harriet Tubman 20 Dollar Bill

Source: AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

Remember during the spring of 2019 when President Donald J. Trump was accused of being racist because the Treasury Department was supposedly delaying the release of a new 20 dollar bill featuring Harriet Tubman? Entire op-eds were written about it, the mainstream media devoted segments dissecting the vicissitude of racism emanating from Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin's decision-making process, as well as pundits fretting what this meant for the nation at large. Well, The Washington Post reports that all of that is absolute garbage as three former and current Treasury officials appointed by President Obama say that President Trump is simply following the timeline they decided upon. It turns out, he has not changed the release plan whatsoever. 

via The Washington Post:

"...Three current or former high-ranking government officials appointed by President Obama, and involved in the design and release of currency, said the Trump administration has not delayed the release of a new $20.

Instead, they say, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin — while expressing indifference about Tubman’s placement on the currency, whereas his predecessor backed the change — has followed a timeline set under the Obama administration for the introduction of the new $20 bill."

Two officials also told the Post that the original plan to release the new 20 dollar bill was always going to take years. 

Another former government official appointed by Obama, speaking on the condition of anonymity to speak about internal government deliberations, also said the new $20 had always been scheduled for release toward the end of next decade. A current high-ranking government official appointed by Obama confirmed this account. 

The primary reason for such a long currency making process is that the government has to enact anti-counterfeit measures to ensure safety and security. That is why the agency is so hesitant to release "concept designs" before they are close to being finally done creating the actual product. If they release it more than a year in advance, then it is likely the fraudsters will be able to duplicate the bill. 

So, in 2015 when Secretary Jack Lew released the concept design, insiders inside the Treasury were cautious about Lew saying the bill would be ready by 2020. Lew and Obama wanted it then so there could be a symbolic unveiling on the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote.

"...some government officials doubted that deadline could be met. A confidential 2013 report by the Advanced Counterfeit Deterrence committee, an interagency group that oversees the redesign of U.S. currency, said the $20 would not enter circulation until 2030, similar to the timeline announced by the Trump administration, according to Larry R. Felix, director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing from 2006 to 2015.

Felix and other senior officials believed it would not be possible to release a “concept” design of Tubman on the $20 in 2020, given that these designs are never released several years — much less an entire decade — before they enter circulation." 

Before Felix left his post, he told agency officials that the deadline was unreasonable. "Those announcements were not grounded in reality. The U.S. had not at the time acquired the security features to redesign and protect the notes,” Felix said of Lew’s announcement at the time according to the Washington Post.

So, there you have it. The delayed 20 dollar bill with Harriet Tubman on it had nothing to do with racism, and everything to do with President Obama's  Secretary of the Treasury jumping the gun and announcing a symbolic gesture way too soon. Perhaps folks like CNN's Dorothy Brown need to retract statements asserting the president was a racist bigot because the bill will not be released in 2020. "This President's belief in white supremacy knows no bounds and perhaps a better descriptor would be to start referring to him as our white-supremacist-in-chief," Brown wrongly surmised regarding President Trump's monetary design actions.