Sen. Sanders’ “Postal Banking” idea is reemerging

Fox Business reports that supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) are, once again, calling for “Postal Banking.” 

The group “People for Bernie” put out a tweet on Sunday saying, “Regardless of if we win flip the Senate, we can win Postal Banking. We can also win public banks at the state and local levels across the nation.”

In the tweet, the group also encouraged people to RSVP for an event that is going to be put on by a subcommittee of the Democratic Socialist Labor Commission.

The event page states, in part:

While [President Donald] Trump soon-to-be holdover Louis DeJoy goes about his mission to cripple the USPS through piecemeal downsizing and privatization, DSA invites all to consider expanding the service, beyond full funding for its core missions of mail and package delivery. One such possibility is the revival of postal savings banks, which provided a refuge from the instability of private banks for working people in the first half of the 20th century.

What is “Postal Banking”?

The basic idea is to have the United States Postal Service (USPS) to double as a bank. The idea was pushed as recently as last year by Sanders, who, at the time, had teamed up with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) in attempt to gain support for this postal banking proposal.

Fox reports that “Some of the proposed services a postal banking system could offer include low-interest loans, checking and savings accounts, debit cards, check cashing, bill payment, ATM services, online banking services and electronic money transfers.”

The outlet further reports that Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez “framed” the measure “as a way to prevent lower-income Americans from falling victim to predatory payday lending practices – and from having to rely on Wall Street’s largest institutions.”

“Post offices exist in almost every community in our country,” Sanders wrote. “There are more than 31,000 retail post offices in this country. An important way to provide decent banking opportunities for low-income communities is to allow the U.S. Postal Service to engage in basic banking services.”

Renewed hope?

Following this push by Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez, the Treasury Department put out a report explaining why postal banking would not work.

“Given the USPS’s narrow expertise and capital limitations, expanding into sectors where the USPS does not have a comparative advantage or where balance sheet risk might arise, such as postal banking, should not be pursued,” the report read.

Back in 2015, when the idea of postal banking first got going, the USPS itself admitted that it was a bad idea because “our core function is delivery, not banking.”

And, if we’re honest, it doesn’t even do that “core function” that well. But, who knows. Depending on how the Senate runoff goes, Sanders may have new hope, and his supporters certainly seem ready to make a push.

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