Last month, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan, the boldest economic relief package since President Roosevelt’s New Deal nearly a century ago. For many, the most notable portion of the package included another round of economic impact payments and an expanded child tax credit that will put desperately needed cash into most Americans’ pockets.
But there is some bad news. For the third time in a year, a massive coronavirus relief bill has laid bare the systemic predation and economic exclusion embedded within our nation’s banking and financial system. A system that has left behind millions of Americans solely because they don’t have access to a bank account.
We believe that unless this nation embraces the use of public banks, this financial exclusion will only worsen for the millions of unbanked and underbanked Americans already suffering during this pandemic.
Don’t believe us? Look no further than the past few weeks, when Americans with bank accounts started receiving their latest round of economic impact payments via direct deposit. However, just as they had to with the CARES Act, millions of unbanked and underbanked Americans will wait longer — for many, months longer — to receive a paper check in the mail because they simply do not have access to a bank account. Even once their money arrives, many may have had to pay up to 5% to a currency exchange to cash their checks.