The need for a public banking option is urgent. Nearly 10 million households, a disproportionate number of whom are people of color, are unbanked in the United States. Unbanked or underbanked households must pay expensive fees for non-bank financial services to access their own money for paying bills, cashing checks, remittances, rent, and ATM withdrawals — costing upwards of $2,400 annually. The widely trusted U.S. Postal Service has a long history of postal banking and is physically located in every community, making it the sensible option to provide a public banking solution. But this requires a good faith effort, done well.
A postal reform bill that passed Congress this week could offer another opportunity to install a postal banking system in the United States, according to a review by the Prospect. While the $107 billion in savings from ending the Postal Service’s prefunding of retirement benefits and moving postal retirees onto Medicare has received most of the headlines, Section 103 of the bill, subsection 3704, restates USPS authority to partner to “provide property and nonpostal services” to federal government agencies, as long as whatever results raises revenue for the Postal Service. This would appear to supersede one aspect of a ban on non-postal products from the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, and could pave the way to providing services that mirror a bank account for any American who wants one.
As lawmakers work on finishing fiscal 2022 appropriations, they’ll have to decide whether to keep a House spending provision that would allow some post offices to offer more financial services. Coming in the wake of a largely ignored U.S. Postal Service test of a check-cashing service, a new initiative could test whether the Postal Service can attract millions of Americans who now lack banking services, serve areas largely vacated by banks and make money by doing so. Those tests depend on the Senate going along with the $6 million for a pilot project in the House’s fiscal 2022 Financial Services appropriations bill. Lawmakers are trying to finish the appropriations work before the current continuing resolution expires on March 11.
USPS has a public service mandate to provide a similar level of service to communities across the country regardless of local economic conditions. In addition to daily mail delivery to far-flung locations, the Postal Service maintains post offices even in low-income urban neighborhoods and small towns that lack other basic services. The Postal Service is able to fulfill its mission while keeping postage rates low due to economies of scale. Once the fixed costs of post offices and delivery are covered, the additional cost of new services is often minimal. If it weren’t prevented from doing so, the Postal Service could take advantage of underused capacity and build on Americans’ trust in the Postal Service to offer new services to the public while bringing needed revenue to the agency.
New York City - When the United States Postal Service launched a test program in September allowing people with business or payroll checks to get them loaded onto gift cards at four neighborhood post offices, it was seen as a primitive precursor to a postal banking system. But in order for the test to be successful and mature into a pilot, it has to actually be, well, tested. According to postal employees at Baychester Station in the Bronx, one of four locations nationwide where the test is being carried out, not a single business or payroll check transaction was made between September 13, when the test launched, and October 31. Some union leaders who support the postal banking concept have become frustrated by the selection of Baychester, and the lack of muscle for the project from the USPS.
The crisis[Covid-19 pandemic] has wreaked economic havoc on working Americans. But U.S. billionaires have gotten 62 percent richer during the pandemic, while over 86 million Americans lost jobs, some 3 million households now report concerns of imminent eviction, and essential workers — particularly Latino, Indigenous and Black workers — continue to die from Covid-19 at disproportionate rates.
The current US Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, and the head of the Board of Governors, Ron Bloom, launched a ten year plan that will slow mail service and raise prices. This is the final blow to defund and destroy the US Postal Service so it will be ripe for privatization. DeJoy and Bloom have financial stakes in this happening. Clearing the FOG speaks with Chuck Zlatkin, legislative and political director for the largest postal union local in the US about the plan and the devastating impact it will have on everyone who relies on the post office. Zlatkin also exposes the blatant corruption, explains how the Biden administration could save the postal service and critiques the new postal baking pilot. We have reached a point where we must act to save the postal service, or we are going to lose it.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) has taken the most dramatic step in a half-century to re-establish a postal banking system in America. In four pilot cities, customers can now cash payroll or business checks of up to $500 at post office locations, and have the money put onto a single-use gift card. It’s the most far-reaching executive action that the Biden administration has taken since Inauguration Day. The move puts the USPS in direct competition with the multibillion-dollar check-cashing industry, which operates storefronts to allow unbanked or underbanked residents to cash their paychecks. According to USPS spokesperson Tatiana Roy, the pilot launched on September 13 in four locations: Washington, D.C.; Falls Church, Virginia; Baltimore; and the Bronx, New York.
With its contracts expiring in 2022, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers is stepping up the fight for its own vision of the post office of the future. It’s a model for exactly the kind of Green New Deal campaign that U.S. unions should be launching now for a post-Covid economic recovery. For several years, CUPW and its allies have proposed a visionary plan called Delivering Community Power. It advances a big but simple idea: take Canada Post, an institution that’s already publicly owned and embedded in communities, and reinvent it to drive a just transition into a post-carbon economy. The post office would help to jump-start green vehicle production and infrastructure; it would provide free Internet access for all; it would create a nationwide system of public banking.
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is under attack and at grave risk. But with that many Americans are awakening to both the value of the USPS and the manifest dangers of privatization. The crisis has also sparked renewed interest in postal banking, a win-win approach that could both make the USPS more financially resilient and provide badly needed financial services to tens of millions of Americans. Over the past several months, this constitutionally enshrined and highly-regarded public institution has been sabotaged from both within and without.
Undermining democracy to win elections and protect investors and property interests in the United States is well documented and has been a consistent part of our history. However, Donald Trump’s attacks on our democracy, including his effort to privatize and disparage the public Post Office are unprecedented, and unpopular with most voters. Article 1 of the Constitution requires Congress to establish the post office, and the enabling legislation dates back to 1792. Donald Trump is constantly expanding his party’s decades-long reliance on holding down turnout to win, as white supremacist Democrats once did for nearly 100 years, beginning after the Civil War with poll taxes, literacy tests, and other restrictions on voting rights.
The financial problems of the United States Postal Service (USPS) are the result of misguided policy decisions — some of them long-standing — not declines in first-class mail, its primary source of revenue. With the increased demands of voting by mail in a national election and a boom in home package delivery, the pandemic makes a well-resourced postal service more important than ever. Nostrums about the public debt have contributed to a decades-long, bipartisan attack on the US public sector, including the postal service.
Imagine if activists and elected officials were clamoring for emergency provision of food and McDonald’s offered to place a drive-thru window in every post office. Calling it #postalfood. That makes as much sense as JPMorgan’s Chase recent attempt to place its own ATMs in every post office and call it #postalbanking. According to recent reports, Chase — the largest bank in the United States, with $3.2 trillion of assets — has offered to lease space from USPS in exchange for the “exclusive right” to solicit postal banking customers. Wall Street has consistently opposed the return of postal banking since its destruction in the 1960s. Chase and other nefarious actors are attempting to prevent competition before it even forms. The 2020 Democratic Party Platform and Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force recommendations both call for postal banking. But they also call on policymakers to separate retail banking institutions from more risky investments and protect consumers from high rates, onerous fees, inequitable credit reporting, and other harms.
By Andy Piascik. United States - Throughout the country, postal workers and community allies have prevented the closing of many facilities. Among the actions taken were a post office occupation in Oregon and the erection of a tent city in front of a facility in California. Several years ago, similar popular pressure stopped the attempted elimination of Saturday delivery service. The large scale elimination of facilities has had the predictable result of increasing costs because of the greater distance mail must travel. Consider that an item mailed from a Bridgeport address to another Bridgeport address, for example, now goes to a distribution facility in Kearny, New Jersey before arriving at its final destination, then consider that the same rocket scientists who came up with that one hail themselves as fiscally responsible and attack the USPs as inefficient.
In the U.S, 38 percent of the population—88 million people—either have no bank accounts (the “unbanked”) or are at least partially dependent upon high-cost services like payday lending (the “underbanked”). These households pay dearly for basics. In 2012, the income for the average underbanked household was about $25,500, but it spent an average of nearly $2,500 solely on interest and fees for alternative financial services (AFS) like payday lending. That’s almost 10 percent of their annual income—about as much as they spent on food. Unbanked and underbanked people are a mix of working and middle-class families, students, the unemployed, and others living paycheck-to-paycheck. Yet financial exclusion is disproportionately rampant among people of color and immigrants, and especially women within those groups.