Which woman should be on the $10 bill?

The U.S. Treasury Department announced yesterday, “Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew has decided that the new $10 note should feature a woman who was a champion for our inclusive democracy […].”

Many people shared my immediate reaction: why not dump President Andrew Jackson from the $20 bill instead? Binyamin Appelbaum put it most succinctly: “Hard choices: Should we get rid of the hard-working immigrant on the $10 bill or the homicidal racist on the $20 bill? Hmmmmm”. Alexandra Petri explained in more detail why Jackson doesn’t deserve the honor of being on our currency. Among other things, he bears responsibility for the Indian Removal Act and the subsequent “Trail of Tears,” one of the most shameful crimes in U.S. history. As Steven Mufson pointed out, Hamilton “was a founding father, co-author of the Federalist Papers, Revolutionary War staff aide to George Washington, first Treasury Secretary and architect of the early American economy.’ Someone already started a White House petition to keep Hamilton on the $10 bill, but the Treasury Department’s FAQ page on “The New 10” don’t indicate that switching the $20 bill is an option.

Currency is primarily redesigned as necessary to address current and potential security threats to currency notes. When recommending a note for redesign, the Advanced Counterfeit Deterrence (ACD) Steering Committee considers these primary goals: that U.S. currency utilizes unique and technologically advanced security features to deter counterfeiting, that it facilitates the public’s use and authentication, provides accessibility and usability, and maintains public confidence. Based on analysis of these criteria, in June 2013, the Committee recommended that the $10 note should be the next note to be redesigned, assuming no other counterfeit threats emerge.

This thread is for any opinions about who belongs on the new currency. My first choice to celebrate women’s contributions to democracy would be Carrie Chapman Catt, a “Key coordinator of the woman suffrage movement and skillful political strategist.” She grew up in Charles City, Iowa, graduated from what later became Iowa State University, then worked in Charles City and Mason City.

Another good choice would be Francis Perkins, the first woman to serve in the president’s cabinet as labor secretary under Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Continue Reading...

Same-sex couples married in Iowa to get equal federal tax treatment

The Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Treasury confirmed today that legally married same-sex couples will be able to file the same kind of federal tax returns (jointly or separately) as married heterosexual couples. The move was widely anticipated after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down key provisions in the Defense of Marriage Act in June, but Treasury Secretary Jack Lew cleared up one important question today:

“Today’s ruling provides certainty and clear, coherent tax filing guidance for all legally married same-sex couples nationwide. It provides access to benefits, responsibilities and protections under federal tax law that all Americans deserve,” Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said in a statement.

“This ruling also assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change.”

In other words, federal authorities will recognize the marriages of same-sex couples wed in Iowa since April 2009, even if those couples now live in a state that does not recognize their marriage. Donna Red Wing, executive director of the LGBT advocacy group One Iowa, released a statement hailing “a good day for same-sex couples and their families” and thanking the administration for “moving quickly and judiciously.”

Continue Reading...

Harkin, Grassley split as Senate confirms Jack Lew at Treasury

The U.S. Senate confirmed Jack Lew as secretary of the Treasury today by 71 votes to 26 (roll call). Senator Chuck Grassley was one of the 25 Republicans who opposed Lew’s nomination, joined by independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who caucuses with Democrats. Twenty Republicans joined the rest of the Democrats present, including Iowa’s Tom Harkin, in voting to confirm Lew. Grassley announced his opposition to the Treasury nominee earlier this week. After the jump I’ve posted the floor statement he read today. While Grassley raised some troubling points, I think Sanders made a stronger case for opposing Lew, so I’ve enclosed his statement below as well. I will update this post if I see any further comment from Harkin.

Four years ago, both Grassley and Harkin voted against confirming Timothy Geithner as Treasury secretary.  

Continue Reading...

Grassley will oppose Jack Lew's confirmation at Treasury

Senator Chuck Grassley announced this morning that he will vote against confirming Jacob “Jack” Lew, President Barack Obama’s nominee for Treasury secretary. In a statement I’ve posted below, Grassley explained his reasons. They relate to Lew’s actions and compensation while he worked at New York University, not his government work during Obama’s first term as director of the Office of Management and Budget and later chief of the president’s staff. Grassley’s objections look reasonable to me, although I have to laugh when Republicans who supported Mitt Romney for president object to Lew’s Cayman Islands investments.

Grassley also plans to oppose two other presidential nominees: William B. Schultz as general counsel of the Department of Health and Human Services and Christopher J. Meade for general counsel at Treasury. The statement below explains his reasons. Grassley has substantive grounds for opposing Meade, but Schultz looks like a victim of other beefs between the senator and the HHS department.

Continue Reading...

Another Obama cabinet discussion thread

President Barack Obama announced today that his Chief of Staff Jack Lew is his pick to replace Timothy Geithner as Treasury secretary. I have low expectations, since Lew has been a “central player in two failed attempts at a grand bargain on deficit reduction with House Republicans.” The “grand bargain” would have paired token tax hikes on the wealthy with significant benefit cuts for middle-class and low-income Americans. Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama did not rule out filibustering Lew’s nomination.

I was surprised to hear that Hilda Solis is leaving as Labor secretary. She was one of Obama’s better cabinet picks, but White House officials have undermined her on several issues, notably efforts to regulate child labor at agricultural facilities. Brad Plumer posted a good summary of Solis’ record.

According to the White House, the following cabinet members will stay on for now: Attorney General Eric Holder, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. I’m concerned that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was not on that list.

Any comments about Obama’s cabinet and/or the “embarrassing as hell” lack of diversity in the president’s “inner circle” are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: I did not realize that the Commerce secretary position has been vacant for almost six months.

View More...