The Post Office Could Provide a Public Option for Banking
This proposal has been around for awhile; Elizabeth Warren endorsed the idea a few months ago. And now legislation has been introduced in Congress by Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, which would allow the U.S. Postal Service to offer basic financial services — check cashing, savings and checking accounts and small loans. This would be a Godsend for millions of low-income people who don't have checking or savings accounts. Payday lenders — America's favorite sleazebags — would become practically irrelevant. And the U.S. Postal Service would earn back some of the billions of dollars they've lost because of Congress' mandate that all postal employees' retirement benefits must be pre-paid several decades in advance.
Needless to say, the banking industry's congressional prostitutes will never ever agree to such Communist claptrap. Helping the Post Office? Helping poor people? Government bureaucrats meddling in the loan shark industry?
But the good news is, the Postal Service might be able to implement this plan without congressional approval. It's too bad everything has to be accomplished via executive authority because of our corrupt gridlocked Congress, but there you have it. When there's a giant blob of shit blocking the highway, you have to take a detour and go around it.
The Postal Service used to offer small savings accounts. Congress put a stop to this in the 1960s (three guesses why). But according to the Office of the Inspector General of the Postal Service, the precedent for these banking services has already been established. Post Offices wouldn't be starting something new; they'd simply be reinstating a service they used to offer.
This will be open to different interpretations, of course. And with the 2014 midterm elections coming up, what are we waiting for? Sounds like a campaign issue to me.
Let's see, which of these themes will resonate more with the public?
A) Helping the Post Office avoid bankruptcy, and simultaneously saving millions of banking consumers from being ripped off; or
B) Sympathy for those poor payday lenders who might actually have to start working for a living.
Let the soundbites begin.