Despite the absence of any breaking news about the Treasury
Department’s decision to place a woman on the next version of the $10,
mass media cannot seem to get enough of it.
The Jan. 27 Business Day section of the New York Times
covered it extensively in a 1,400-word story headlined “A Woman on the
$10 Bill, and Everyone Has 2 Cents to Put In” that revealed that the
response to the initiative shocked everyone involved, for the size of
both the response and the number of unexpected complaints about what
was supposed to be noncontroversial. Treasurer Rosie Rios told the
Times, “I think it took us all by surprise just how much interest
there really was,” and the outpouring caused Treasury Secretary Jack
Lew to go past his December deadline without giving an indication
about when he will finally decide.
The article pointed out the irony that, among the many tasks that
occupy Lew’s time, most recently things like the Puerto Rican debt
crisis and the World Economic Forum in Davos, he may be most
remembered for how the $10 bill looks.
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Although some complaints were chauvinistic, such as one antediluvian
Twitter comment from a man who would demand two $5 note before ever
accepting a $10 note with a woman on it, the most common criticism was
of the choice of the $10 note instead of the $20 issue. However, the
article says officials were acting naturally and justifiably. Security
reasons led the Advanced Counterfeit Deterrence committee in 2012 to
recommended the $10 note be the next denomination to be redesigned.
This committee, led by Rios, included representatives from the
Treasury, the Federal Reserve, the Secret Service and the Bureau of
Engraving and Printing.
A few lesser known facts were pointed out. One is that the
administration was eager to make a historic statement about women
before President Obama leaves office, and the $10 note became a
vehicle for it.
Officials say they cannot switch bills and are committed to the $10.
A proposal from Women On 20s, supported by the National Organization
for Women, is offered as a compromise and would “keep Hamilton
alongside a woman chosen by Treasury and change the opposite side of
the $10 bill, replacing the image of the Treasury building with a
vignette of nearly a dozen female historical figures.”
The Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society, on the other hand, asks
“How can a current secretary of Treasury displace or diminish the
first secretary of Treasury?”