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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration Officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Rob Nichols

Learn more about the new currency.

October 17, 2003

Rob Nichols
Hello out there. Its great to be here on Ask the White House. I'm looking forward to your questions.

Jeanne, from Andover, Massachusetts writes:
Does the Treasury Department play a role in the war on terrorism? If yes, could you tell me about the progress we have made in disrupting Islamic fundamentalistAl Queda finances. Also, what challenges or difficulties are we facing in cutting off terrorists funds?

Is there anything citizens can do with their purchasing power to help the war on terror? (e.g conserve gasoline or oil? don't buy diamonds or other products?)

Rob Nichols
Jeanne, Treasury is the lead agency that fights the financing of terror, but we work super closely with the Departments of State and Justice and Homeland Security, so its really a team effort.

Just days after the September 11th attacks, President Bush launched the first salvo in the war on terror by freezing the assets of dozens of terrorists and supporters of terror. So far, we've frozen the assets of 322 terrorists and terrorist supporters and have seized or frozen nearly $200 million in terrorist assets. We view that as a good start.

President Bush has recognized that if we can stop the money, we can stop the killing. We consider the fight to stop the funding of terrorism one of the top priorities in the war on terror and we spend a lot of time working on this.

Laura, from Iowa writes:
What was the purpose of changing the dollar bill? To look more like Canadian currency? :-D (My parents are from Canada).

Rob Nichols
Hi laura, actually its being changed to stay ahead of advancing technologies that can be used for counterfeiting U.S. currency. By producing what we believe is the safest, smartest and most secure note ever, we can stay ahead of counterfeiting and protect the U.S. economy and your hard-earned money. With respect to the question on Canada - we are always in touch with nations around the world trying to share ideas about how to protect the integrity of currency. One of the goals in redesigning the currency was to retain its distinctive "American" look - because the American dollar is associated with stability, security and strength. We think these new designs accomplish that.

Katherine, from Memphis writes:
Hi Mr. Nichols, and thank you for your time. I have recently seen the online spots for the new $20 bill. What exactly is the Dept. of the Treasury hoping to accomplish with that ad campaign?

Rob Nichols
Trust and acceptance of U.S. currency is essential to the stability of both the U.S. and global economies. To ensure confidence is maintained as new money designs are issued, beginning with the $20 note in October 2003 and continuing with the $50 and $100 notes in 2004 and 2005, the U.S. government is carrying out a far-reaching public education and awareness initiative. It is aimed at preparing cash-handlers at banks and businesses, as well as consumers around the world to recognize and, therefore, honor the new design as genuine U.S. currency. Training on how to use the design's security features to detect counterfeit notes is central to the public education effort, with particular emphasis on cash-handling employees, who are the front line of defense against counterfeiting.

Brian, from Morton, Il 61550 writes:
I counted 100 "twenty's" on the new dollar bill. Is that true?

Rob Nichols
In all candor Brian, I have not counted them myself.

eric, from roanoke writes:
are $2 bills more valuable than 2 dollars? are $1 coins more valuable than a $ 1 bill?

Rob Nichols
No, a dollar in coins equals a dollar in bills, and so on.

stanley, from seattle writes:
i have always wanted to go to africa. when secretary o'neill went to africa, did you get to go too? Did you perhaps see any elephants?

Rob Nichols
I was privileged to go to Africa with Secretary O'Neill. And while we did see a few rambunctious elephants, the purpose of the trip was to help the African people create vibrant, self-sustaining economies and a rising standard of living.

Hansel, from Country Club Hills, Il writes:
What are your views on space travel

Rob Nichols

I'm for it.

Brian, from Irvine, CA writes:
Will there be a new $1, $2, $5, $10, $50, or a new $100 bill in the future?

Rob Nichols
Current plans call for redesign of the $20, $50 and $100 notes, with the new $50 note being issued in 2004 and the $100 note in 2005. The redesign of the $10 and $5 notes is still under consideration, but a redesign of the $2 and $1 notes is not planned. In each redesign, it is our goal to make the note safer, smarter and more secure.

ethan, from philadelphia writes:
how much money each year does the American public lose to counterfeit money and money laundering? How will this new money help? have there been any estimates of how much money will be saved?

Rob Nichols
Hi Ethan, current estimates are between 1-2 counterfeits in every 10,000 genuine notes. And last year about $44.3 million in counterfeit U.S. currency was detected and removed from circulation.

Thornton, from San Bernadino writes:
I like the new money. But my real question is, what was Wilma Flintstone's

maiden name? I need to know this for one of my classes. Also, as an aside -- who do you think was hotter? Wilma or Betty?

Rob Nichols
Wilma's middle name is Slaghoople. As for Wilma or Betty? I prefer blondes.

julia, from henderson, tn writes:
when are we going to get rid of the penny? what's the purpose of keeping it around?

i have plenty that i'm willing to turn in for free.

Rob Nichols
Julia, we do plan on keeping the penny in circulation. Among other uses, they come in handy when you need a gumball. I will pass your comments along to the US Mint Director Henrietta Fore the next time I see her. She is in charge of our penny policy.

josephina, from des moines, iowa writes:
I think keeping our own U.S. currency is very important. This understood, however, has the Treasury Department ever thought about changing the dimensions of our money. If you have ever noticed, foreign money fits much easier in wallets.

Rob Nichols
Josephina, we like its current size. But I will let Tom Ferguson know about your observation. Tom is the Director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which is part of the US Treasury. He has done a fantastic job of introducing the new twenty.

Tyler, from El Dorado Springs, MO writes:
Hello, what is the purpose of the color on the money and the small portrait on the righthand side? Thanks

Rob Nichols
Subtle background colors of peach, green and blue have been added to both sides of the $20 note, which makes the notes harder to counterfeit because it adds to their complexity.

I think you might be referencing the American eagle, which is a symbol of freedom.

jeff, from panama city, fl writes:
I recently read 33 million dollars was approved and spent on an ad campaign to promote the new twenty dollar bill. If so, there should be at least 33 million dollars worth of return to offset the cost of the campaign. I'm having trouble seeing how, so please enlighten me.

Rob Nichols
The government is conducting far-reaching public awareness and education programs that we believe are vital to public trust and acceptance of the new currency, and thus to economic and financial security around the world. Simply, it is important that everyone who comes in contact with the new currency - cash-handlers at banks and stores, the general public -- is able to recognize it. The figure you cited is for a five-year program that will also encompass the introduction of the new $50 note in 2004 and the $100 note in 2005.

Daniel, from Rochester,New York writes:
Dear Rob, Are we going to be making more changes on our 1 dollar , 5 dollar ,10 dollar and 50 dollar as well. I think we need to make changes on our dollar so people don't make illegal prints.

I hope you will answer my question

regards Daniel Rochester, NY

Rob Nichols
Hi Jeff, here are your answers: we are not going to make changes to the one dollar bill, we are considering redesigning the five and the ten, and we will are already working on the new $50 note being issued in 2004. By the way, we will still produce the same denominations, so you won't see a three dollar bill or a seven dollar bill for example anytime soon.

Debbie, from Wasco California writes:
Andrew Jackson's portrait looks distorted. Is that purposeful or am I seeing it in error?

Rob Nichols
Good eye Debbie. You are not seeing it in error, as it's a new portrait! The oval borders and fine lines surrounding the portrait on the front and the White House vignette on the back of the note have been removed. The portrait has been moved up and Jackson's shoulders have been extended into the border.

robbie, from oakland, california writes:
do more people tell you that you look like matt lauer or adam sandler?

Rob Nichols

kj, from Indonesia writes:
When the US prints the money, do they print it?

Rob Nichols
U.S. paper money is engraved and printed by the Department of the Treasury's Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP). Our facilities are in Washington,DC and Fort Worth Texas. If you come to DC, you should get a BEP tour - they are really interesting and informative.

Steve, from California writes:
What are we supposed to tell people who won't accept the new bill because it looks "fake"?

Rob Nichols
Steve, I'd point out the three very obvious anti-counterfeiting features that can be used to tell if the bill is authentic. First, the security thread with the words "USA TWENTY" printed on it that runs vertically through the left side of the note. Second, the watermark - the small version of the Jackson portrait - that's part of the paper itself is visible from the front and back when you hold the note to the light. Third, the ink used to print the large number twenty in the bottom right hand corner shifts colors, turning from copper to green, when you tilt the note. Give it a try!

J., from Washington writes:
Do people ever laugh that you work at Treasury - and your last name is Nichols (Like the five cent piece - the nickle)?

Rob Nichols
Frankly, I think my name helped me land this job!

Judy, from Toledo, Ohio writes:
Dear Mr. Nichols, How long does a $20 bill last in normal circulation? How are they destroyed when they are taken out of circulation? Thank you, Judy

Rob Nichols
Your average twenty lasts twenty four months. The Federal Reserve destroys them, they have a big shredder.

jessica, from alaska writes:
how is it decided which President is on the $1, $5 and $10 bills? will this change w the new color money?

Rob Nichols
The Secretary of the Treasury gets to decide. This will not change with the new money.

zac, from cuyahoga Falls OH writes:
when can I get one

Rob Nichols
We introduced the new 20s on October 9th. On that day, the Federal Reserve began shipping the new $20 notes to commercial banks, credit unions and S&Ls to fill their currency orders. It's then up to the bank how quickly they put the notes into ATMs and teller drawers. But some will do so right away so the public can get its first look at the new currency. As commercial banks receive the notes, they will also start shipping them to stores and other businesses as they need currency. I checked for you, and we did send some of the new 20s to Ohio.

Maddie, from Capitol Hill writes:
Have you ever thought of issuing a bill in an amount that is not a round number? Almost no items in stores are in exact, round figures. So, why not issue - let's say - a $1.50 bill or a $10.99 bill. That way we won't have to carry that many coins.

Thanks for the response.

Rob Nichols
Maddie, hmmm, that's a slippery slope. If you print a $1.50 bill, do you have to also print a $1.49 bill? And a $1.51 bill? That would lead to a heck of a lot of currency. I think I would get confused. We are going to stick with the same denominations we are using today. If I were you, I'd take a peek at, which has many fun facts about our currency.

Tim, from Aumsville, Oregon writes:
Most gum ball machines are a quarter now. I havent seen a penny machine around in a long time.

Why do we still have the penny?

Rob Nichols
Penny loafer sounds better than quarter loafer.

Rob Nichols
This has been super fun and I've really enjoyed doing this. I hope to do this again soon. Remember, to find out more about the new currency, go to It's a great web site which should answer most of your questions. As a parting thought, let me take a moment to point out that as result of the tax relief sought by President Bush, American families will get to keep a more of their own money. RN

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