First Jackson got a bright green tinge, then Grant earned himself an American flag. Then Lincoln got a purple eagle, Hamilton was given the first line of the Constitution in swirly red text, and just last year, Franklin was given a color-changing bell.
But poor George Washington, the face of the $1 bill, hasn’t gotten a makeover in more than 50 years. And thanks to a spending bill passed by Congress last week, he isn’t likely to get an update anytime soon.
In the last 10 years, the Federal Reserve has redesigned the $5, $10, $20, and $50 bills, adding color and watermarks to prevent counterfeiting. But Congress and the president himself have pushed provisions in recent budgets to prevent the Treasury Department from spending any of its funds to give the $1 bill a new look, leaving Washington with the same design he’s had since 1963, when “In God We Trust” was added to all Federal Reserve notes.
Poor George Washington, the face of the $1 bill, hasn’t gotten a makeover in more than 50 years.
The last time the $1 had a real face-lift was in 1929. Even the rare $2 bill has seen a more recent upgrade, with its 1976 makeover.
For the last several years, budgets composed by the president and Congress have included specific language preventing the Treasury Department from using its funds to redesign the $1 bill. That provision was also included in this month’s omnibus spending bill.
The Federal Reserve redesigns currency largely to prevent counterfeiting, and $1 bills are not a frequent target. Would-be criminals are more often lured by larger bills, according to information provided to the Fed by the Secret Service and other law-enforcement agencies.
The vending industry has argued that the costs of redesigning its machines to recognize the new bills would be prohibitive. The National Automatic Merchandising Association estimated in 2008 that 20 million Americans use one of the nation’s 7 million vending machines every work day.
Those concerns were instrumental in the Bush administration’s move to block the $1 bill from a makeover in the early 2000s.
“As long as the $1 bill is around, NAMA will work to preserve the current design of the bill, the same design we’ve had since 1929. Redesign would be very costly to our operator members. And equally important, we will work with the Federal Reserve to improve the quality of the circulating greenback,” Thomas McMahon, then-senior vice president for the vending industry’s top lobbying group, wrote in 2006.
NAMA declined to discuss its history of opposition to a redesign. But Eric Dell, the group’s current senior vice president for government affairs, said in a statement Monday: “Should the Congress and or the [Bureau of Printing and Engraving] decide to move forward with a redesign, we would welcome the opportunity to assess the industry impact of any proposal and provide information at that time.”
What We're Following See More »
Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."