News Monday that the U.S. Postal Service recently rolled out a pilot program in four cities allowing limited payroll and business check-cashing services was welcomed by a top Democrat who called it a “welcome start” to fuller postal banking services but stressed that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy must still be fired.
The remarks from Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), posted online by The American Prospect’s David Dayen, reference the “predatory” practices by payday lenders often faced by unbanked Americans as well as the lawmaker’s hope for “a new postal board and post master general.”
“The future of USPS depends on implementing postal banking. Postal banking will unite rural and urban communities and crush predatory payday lenders,” Pascrell said in a thread.
“One more thing,” Pascrell added. “Today would be a great day to fire the Trump appointees on the postal board of governors and then fire Louis Dejoy. They all need to be fired.”
Pascrell’s demand—which came amid widespread sustained calls for DeJoy’s ouster over conflicts of interest and a plan Democrats warned would cause a “death spiral” of the Postal Service—followed reporting Monday by the Prospect and other outlets that, starting on September 13, in USPS locations in Washington, D.C. Baltimore, Falls Church, Va., and the Bronx, customers have been able to cash checks up to $500 in exchange for a gift card. The program represents a collaboration of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) and the Postal Service.
“The well-being of the Postal Service—that the people in the country so overwhelmingly support—in the future is partly going to rest on these kind of expanded services,” APWU president Mark Dimondstein told the Washington Post.
“New services will not just have the post office doing well by the people,” he said, “but will bring in needed revenue.”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)—who, like Pascrell and other lawmakers including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)—has called for a pilot postal banking program, tweeted Monday that the new development “is a great first step towards creating a full postal bank.”
“Families who don’t have access to a bank will be able to cash paychecks without paying predatory fees,” she said, “and it would generate billions to help the USPS survive and thrive.”
According to Causten Rodriguez-Wollerman, deputy director at the ACLU, however, “This program is the bare minimum.” The postal board, he said, must “do much more.”
He noted for example that “in the United States, 59% of zip codes don’t have a bank but 100% of zip codes have at least one post office.”
“The USPS must launch postal banking pilots in thousands of post offices across the country to provide affordable financial solutions for all,” said Rodriguez-Wollerman.
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