WASHINGTON -- Ronald Reagan is honored by, among other things, an airport, a freeway, an aircraft carrier and -- ironically for a critic of big government -- one of the biggest federal buildings in Washington.
Now, some of the late president's admirers are launching a new effort to add another honor: printing his likeness on a $50 bill in place of Ulysses S. Grant's.
In polls of presidential scholars, Reagan consistently outranks Grant, said Rep. Patrick T. McHenry (R-N.C.), who introduced legislation to make the change.
But at least one Democrat who serves on the House Financial Services Committee, where the proposal has been sent, isn't ready to jettison Grant for "someone whose policies are still controversial."
"Our currency ought to be something that unites us," said Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks).
Grant admirers, who credit him for leading the Union Army to victory during the Civil War, were none too pleased either.
"I'm very upset," said Keya Morgan, a New York-based Grant scholar who has a Web page on the 18th president. "I have all the respect in the world for Reagan, but what he accomplished is not anywhere as important as what Ulysses S. Grant accomplished."
An earlier proposal to put Reagan on the dime in place of President Franklin D. Roosevelt drew objections from Democrats, for whom Roosevelt is as much of a hero as Reagan is for Republicans. An effort to put Reagan on the $20 bill in place of Andrew Jackson drew opposition from Tennessee lawmakers.
A 2005 move to put Reagan on the $50 bill never made it out of the House Financial Services Committee, even though Republicans controlled the chamber at the time.
"President Reagan is indisputably one of the most transformative presidents of the 20th century," McHenry said in a letter to colleagues seeking their support. "Like President Roosevelt on the dime and President Kennedy on the half dollar, President Reagan deserves a place of honor on our nation's currency."
The move comes as efforts are underway in California and Nevada to name mountains after Reagan and as planning gets underway for a yearlong observance in 2011 of the 100th anniversary of Reagan's birth.
richard.simon@ latimes.comCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times