News Release

Sanders’ Post Office Banking for Nearly 100 Million “Unbanked”

MATT STANNARD, matt at commonomicsusa.org, @commonomicsUSA
Stannard is policy director at Commonomics USA and just wrote the piece: “Postal Banks Are People’s Banks: 6 Things You Need To Know About Postal Banking,” which states: “It’s being called ‘Bernie’s Brilliant Idea,’ and Bernie Sanders’ embrace of postal banking is indeed brilliant, both in timing and substance. But while his insurgent presidential campaign may give a credible boost to USPS financial services, Sanders’ endorsement is far from sufficient. To make postal banking happen requires a broad, mass coalition willing to keep pushing the issue regardless of the outcome of the 2016 elections. …

“The demand for postal banking incurs two advantages: It offers working people their own bank at a time when nearly 100 million Americans lack access to affordable financial services, but it also interrupts the relentless attack on the Post Office by conservatives and privatizers. The USPS doesn’t spend taxpayer money, and would run at a profit but for the poisonous provision of the Postal Enhancement and Accountability Act of 2006, which requires it to fund its pensions decades into the future. Postal banking, for extremely low fees and lending rates, would make the USPS financially solvent while providing a ‘public option’ for those unable or unwilling to utilize private banks or expensive alternative services. …

“Nations all over the world have postal savings banks, and the United States had a successful postal bank from 1911 to 1967. At one time, as many as 10 percent of Americans used postal banks; unsurprisingly, it was lobbying from big banks that shut the program down by urging Congress to stop allowing postal banks to offer competitive interest rates. The emergence of postal banking as a 2016 electoral issue stems from a campaign that began early last year with a short, persuasive piece written by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who cited a report by the Postal Inspector General recommending that the USPS offer financial services — from check cashing and small loans to financial counseling and bill paying — as both a public service and business opportunity for the U.S. Post Office.”