This week, North Carolina Congressman Patrick McHenry, a Republican from the 10th Congressional District, announced legislation to redesign the face of the $50 bill. Apparently, for Rep. McHenry, Civil War hero Ulysses S. Grant is, well, kind of a has-been – in a poll of favorite presidents he comes in at a lame 29th. So McHenry wants to give that stodgy, old greenback a facelift, and thinks that Ronald Reagan is just the man for the job.
“Every generation needs its own heroes,” said Congressman McHenry. “One decade into the 21st century, it’s time to honor the last great president of the 20th and give President Reagan a place beside Presidents Roosevelt and Kennedy.”
Aw, that’s sweet. And Reagan was pretty awesome. Most Republicans would, I’m sure, relish the opportunity to honor Reagan in that way. But there’s a time and for everything – and this isn’t it.
With the economy as bad as it is, and unemployment as high as it is, most Americans want their elected officials to figure out better ways to make and save money – not ways to decorate it.
We’ve got a lot on our plate right now. Terrorists and wild-eyed lunatics are stuffing bombs down their pants, crashing airplanes into IRS buildings, shooting up military personnel at our army bases and trying to blow up our subways. We’re attempting to make some serious headway in Afghanistan, and reign in those two psychotic toddlers in Iran and North Korea, Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong-Il. Our economy is still reeling, and joblessness isn’t getting much better. We’re actually considering spending trillions of dollars to – get this – make health care more affordable. And we’re all a little afraid to get in our Toyotas.
But McHenry wants us to think about a doodle? Right now, we don’t care who’s on our bills – we just want more of them. Frankly, if the federal government keeps up all of this spending, we might be carrying around little pictures of Chairman Mao in the not so distant future.
It sounds to me like the well-intended congressman doesn’t have enough to do. And that’s surprising, considering that in his district unemployment is as high as 16 percent in some areas. It’s safe to assume that many of those who are out of work in Avery, Catawba, Cleveland and Burke counties aren’t seeing too many $50 bills right now anyway, and if they are they probably aren’t thinking, “Gosh, I wish this money looked a little snappier.”
If Reagan were alive today, I wager that he’d politely tell Rep. McHenry “Thanks, but no thanks.” He’d be more concerned about restoring the free markets and putting Americans to work than getting his portrait into circulation. Silly initiatives like this are why the American people are frustrated with government – and when election time rolls around they will not discriminate between Republicans and Democrats. A dumb idea is a dumb idea.
So, as lovely a gesture as McHenry’s is, for the sake of his constituents, I beg him to refocus his priorities, and forget about who’s on our paper. If it helps, he can learn something from Reagan’s own words: “A tree's a tree. How many more do you need to look at?”
S.E. Cupp is a conservative columnist and author of the forthcoming book "Losing Our Religion: The Liberal Media's Attack on Christianity," in stores on April 27.