Tlaib, Ocasio-Cortez Introduce Legislation Enabling Creation of Public Banks
Landmark legislation provides financial lifeline for states, municipalities, and unbanked and underbanked residents.
Today, Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) introduced the historic Public Banking Act, which allows for the creation of state and locally administered public banks by establishing the Public Bank Grant program administered by the Secretary of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board which would provide grants for the formation, chartering and capitalization of public banks. It also codifies that public banks may be members of the Federal Reserve. Public banks can offer lower debt costs to city and state governments, fund public infrastructure projects, and encourage entrepreneurship by providing loans to small businesses at lower interest rates and with lower fees. The legislation also creates a pathway for state-chartered banks to gain federal recognition and recognizes a framework for public banks to interact with Fed Accounts, postal banking, and Digital Dollar platforms. As such, the passage of The Public Banking Act would provide a much-needed financial lifeline to states and municipalities, as well as unbanked and underbanked residents, that have been left in dire straits by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Public Banking Act is the latest effort of Congresswomen Tlaib and Ocasio-Crortez to secure the aid state and local governments need--they previously wrote to the Federal Reserve urging it to do more to support state and local governments, adding to criticism that the central bank is being too cautious in some of the programs it set up to help the economy during the pandemic. With a current financial system that has forced billions from accessing the most basic financial tools and cash-strapped cities and states staring down plunging tax revenue and climbing pandemic-related costs , the Congresswomen believe it's time to finally enact banking as a public utility, a proven model worldwide, to keep money local and cut costs by eliminating Wall Street middlemen, shareholders and high-paid executives.
The legislation also:
- Allows the Secretary of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board to provide public banks grants for: bank formation, capitalization, developing financial market infrastructure, supporter operations, covering unexpected losses, and more without the requirement to provide matching funds.
- Allows the Federal Reserve to charter and grant membership to public banks, and in conjunction with the appropriate federal agencies, establish a separate regulatory scheme with respect to these.
- Establishes public banking incubator program to provide technical assistance to public member banks to develop technologies, practices, and data that promote public welfare.
- Establishes new liquidity and credit facilities at the Federal Reserve to provide direct federal support to state and local public banks and their communities;
- Prohibits investment in fossil fuel projects.
- And more.
"From overdraft fees to charging for having a checking account period, Wall Street-run banks put key financial services out of reach for many of my residents who are struggling to make ends meet," Congresswoman Tlaib said. "It's long past time to open doors for people who have been systematically shut out and provide a better option for those grappling with the costs of simply trying to participate in an economy they have every right to--but has been rigged against them. The COVID-19 pandemic has also plunged city and state governments into a financial crisis unlike any other they've ever experienced--and public banks could offer a much more tenable option for dealing with their debts at a time when they need it most. It's for all of this that I'm proud to partner with Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez to finally provide this crucial financial lifeline to our states, municipalities, and folks who are unbanked and underbanked."
"I am proud to partner with Rep. Tlaib on this monumental bill. Public banks are uniquely able to address the economic inequality and structural racism exacerbated by the banking industry's discriminatory policies and predatory practices," Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez said. "The creation of public banks will also facilitate the use of public resources to construct a myriad of public goods including affordable housing and local renewable energy projects. Public banks empower states and municipalities to establish new channels of public investment to help solve systemic crises."
In the short term, public banks would be a seamless and effective way to deliver relief funds to all eligible recipients. In the longer term, public banks would remedy long-standing systemic problems with our banking system that have disproportionately burdened low-income communities, ultimately bringing about transformational change to the American monetary-financial system. That's, in part, why The Public Banking Act has garnered the support of nine of the Congresswomen's colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives: Reps. Jesus G. "Chuy" Garcia (IL-04), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Ayanna Pressley (MA-7), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Al Green (TX-9), Bennie G. Thompson (MS-02), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Barbara Lee (CA-13), and Jan Schakowsky (IL-9). 29 organizations that have long advocated for the public banking system it would make possible, including the California Public Banking Alliance (CBPA), Take on Wall Street, Americans for Financial Reform, Beneficial State Foundation, Communications Workers of America, Friends of the Earth , Food & Water Action, Americans for Financial Reform, California Reinvestment Coalition, Center for Popular Democracy, Community Change, Farm Aid, Institute for Policy Studies, Jobs With Justice, NJ Citizen Action, Oil Change International , Oil Change International, People's Action, Strong Economy for All, UNITE HERE, Working Families Party, Democracy Collaborative, ACRE, and Public Citizen , also support the landmark legislation.
"The public needs an alternative to Wall Street. By providing federal recognition and a regulatory framework for public banks, this bill gives cities and states a proven model that will facilitate investment in an equitable recovery and a sustainable economy," CBPA Legislative Team Organizer David Jette said. "We cannot face the crises of our day with the financial infrastructure that led us to those same crises. We need accountable, publicly chartered banks that invest in the well being of the many, not the few. This bill gets us there, and not a moment too soon."
"As we learned recently from the Paycheck Protection Program, when you pay big Wall Street banks to provide public goods, they inevitably reward themselves and their friends at the expense of white, Black, and brown working families," Take on Wall Street Campaign Director Porter McConnell said. "Take on Wall Street supports the Public Banking Act because public banks can create jobs and boost the local economy, save cities and states money, and lend counter-cyclically to blunt the impact of Wall Street booms and busts. We deserve a financial system for working families, not the big banks, and this bill moves us closer to that reality."
"We are excited to see the introduction of the Public Banking Act that scales out the leadership of our members Asian Pacific Environmental Network and People Organizing Demand Environmental and Economic Rights (PODER) demonstrated in the passage of public banking in California," Climate Justice Alliance Policy Coordinator Anthony Rogers-Wright said. "We are very excited to see our values regarding the need for a rapid Fossil Fuel phaseout represented in this bill. More evidence is pointing to the fact that, economically, Big Oil is in big trouble and the people don't want the money they keep in their banks utilized to bailout or finance an industry that's killing people and planet. Representatives Ocasio-Cortez and Tlaib have the gratitude of frontline communities nationwide."
"The federal government, which issues the U.S. dollar, is uniquely responsible for the health and character of the American financial system," said Willamette University Assistant Professor of Law Rohan Grey said. "Rep. Tlaib and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez's bill critically combines Congressional leadership and vision with strong and genuine support for grassroots economic democracy."
"As a strong supporter of financial innovation in the public interest, I applaud the offices of Rep. Tlaib and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez on the introduction of the Public Banking Act," Public Money Action, Ltd Director and Yale Law School Associate Research Scholar Raul Carrillo, Esq. said. "By facilitating the steady development of public options for 21st century financial services at the federal, state, and local levels, they are not only helping communities divest and invest public money as they see fit, but creating higher standards for equitable financial inclusion across the board."
The full text of the Public Banking Act can be read here .
"The last thing Americans need is a Bezos-backed investment company further consolidating single-family homes and putting homeownership out of reach for more and more people. Housing should be a right, not a speculative commodity."
Among the three richest people on the planet, mega-billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos received some praise last week for announcing approximately $120 million in donations to a number of groups fighting the scourge of homelessness in the United States.
"It's a privilege to support these orgs in their inspiring mission to help families regain stability," Bezos wrote in an Instagram post touting the multiple grants to 38 individual nonprofits in 22 states.
But hold your applause.
Just days after word of the charitable gifts—a minuscule drop in the bucket compared to the estimated $170 billion fortune he possesses—a Bezos-controlled company called Arrived dropped $500 million of new investment in single-family homes with a venture fund that critics warn will make the nation's housing crisis even worse.
According to GV Wire :
Since its inception in 2021, Arrived has attracted nearly a half a million customers, operating as a fractional real estate investing platform. The company’s model is similar to buying a slice of the American pie, allowing investors to purchase shares of single-family rentals for as little as $100.
The fund itself—called the Single Family Residential Fund—allows investors to purchase portions of various homes and later trade, hold, or redeem their "chips" on a rolling basis like players at a casino.
While many Americans, especially younger people and working-class families, have been steadily priced out of homeownership by soaring costs and, more recently, higher interest rates, Arrived prays on that reality by selling the idea that owning a piece of a home as an investment is an "American Dream" akin to owning the home one lives in.
Speculative investors, however, are likely not among those struggling to make ends meet but this kind of investment behavior, warn critics, is certain to drive home prices even higher.
(D-Calif.)—who has co-authored legislation to halt the rent-gouging and inflated home prices that result from such investment schemes—ripped Bezos' latest move.
"The last thing Americans need is a Bezos-backed investment company further consolidating single-family homes and putting homeownership out of reach for more and more people," Khanna tweeted on Friday. "Housing should be a right, not a speculative commodity."
As the author writing under the name Homeless Romantic on Medium noted last week, a primary concern "raised by critics is the monopolization of housing" that Arrived is pushing.
"By acquiring a large number of single-family homes," reads the post, "Bezos and other investors could consolidate control over the housing supply, giving them significant influence over rental prices and market dynamics. This could make it more difficult for ordinary individuals and families to find affordable housing, particularly in high-demand areas."
It wasn't lost on many that there was a disconnect between his relatively paltry gift to organizations valiantly standing on the frontlines to fight homelessness with the one hand, while simultaneously using his massive fortune to exacerbate the crisis with a for-profit venture on the other.
What else could he do? People had ideas.
According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, it would cost a mere $20 billion annually to end homelessness in the United States.
In response to the latest revelations about his charitable giving, a few people said a person worth nearly $200 billion like Bezos "could literally end homelessness by himself if he wanted to."
'I Was Mostly In It for Her': New Details in Rape Probe Embroiling Top GOP Official, Moms for Liberty Co-Founder
Amid charges of gross hypocrisy and many celebrating the possible downfall of a powerful far-right couple following revelations about their private sexual activities, the severity of the accusations led one Florida Democrat to remark, "None of this is funny."
New details made public over the weekend via police documents of a rape investigation have added fresh fuel to the political firestorm surrounding the chair of the Republican Party of Florida, Christian Ziegler, and his wife Bridget Ziegler, co-founder of the far-right Moms for Liberty, which engages in book-banning efforts, attacks on public education, religious moralizing, and the promotion of fascist ideology in chapters nationwide.
After an unnamed longtime associate accused Christian Ziegler of rape last week, the emergence of a police search warrant and associated affidavit showed that the alleged victim said she had engaged in consensual three-way sexual relations with the Zieglers in the past but on the day of the assault, on Oct 3., tried to call off the encounter because Bridget would not be there to participate.
"Sorry I was mostly in for her," the victim said, according to text messages quoted in the affadavit.
The high-profile political work of the Zieglers—who rail against the sexual identities and lifestyle choices of others and who have been openly hostile to the LGBTQ+ community, often suggesting queer people are somehow deviant or morally problematic—has resulted in my cries of hypocrisy and calls for Christian's resignation.
"Allegations of rape and sexual battery are severe and should be taken seriously," said Florida Democratic Party chair Nikki Fried in a statement on Thursday. "I applaud the accuser's bravery in coming forward against a political figure as powerful as Christian Ziegler, and I trust that the Sarasota Police Department will conduct a thorough investigation into these allegations of criminal behavior."
Given the severity of the allegations against him, Fried called on Christian Zeigler to resign from his post, a call echoed later by Gov. Ron DeSantis , a Republican currently running for the GOP presidential nomination.
Fried said that "what happens behind closed doors is Christian and Bridget's personal business," but added that she did "find it interesting that two people who are so obsessed with banning books about gay penguins might be engaged in a non-traditional sexual relationship," referring to a children's book about gay parents which has been targeted by Republicans for banning in schools in Florida and elsewhere.
"As leaders in the Florida GOP and Moms for Liberty," said Fried, "the Zieglers have made a habit out of attacking anything they perceive as going against 'family values'—be it reproductive rights or the existence of LGBTQ+ Floridians. The level of hypocrisy in this situation is stunning."
According to the Washington Post :
News reports emerged several days ago about the allegations of rape, but more records were obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request late Friday and reported by several Florida news outlets. They include details of recorded conversations via Instagram and phone calls between the woman and Christian Ziegler that detectives obtained. Police have filed search warrants for Ziegler’s phone, email and other devices. The Sarasota Police Department did not reply to several requests for comment.
Christian Ziegler's attorney, Derek Byrd, said in a statement Thursday that his client "will be completely exonerated." Byrd and Ziegler did not respond to requests for comment Saturday about the details in the affidavit.
"It's certainly deeply, deeply troubling," state Rep. Spencer Roach, a member of the Florida GOP executive committee, told the
in an interview. "I would describe this as just an absolute body blow to the Republican Party. Everyone that I've talked to about this is in an absolute tailspin."
Paulina Testerman, a co-founder of the nonprofit Support Our Schools, which defends public education, spoke to The Daily Beast about the allegations of rape in the context the Ziegler's political activities in Florida.
"Many of us have stood at the podium of countless school board meetings and listened to Mrs. Ziegler drag the LGBT+ community, so it's natural to want to celebrate when bullies get what's coming," Testerman said. "But we must remind ourselves that there are many victims in this story. An alleged rape victim is the obvious victim, but our LGBT children and all marginalized children have all been the victim of the Zieglers and their hate machine. We are hopeful that their reign is over, and our community can start healing."
Bridget Ziegler—who reportedly confirmed to detectives she and her husband did have a consensual sexual relationship in the past—is not named in the affadavit, but Moms for Liberty defended her in a post on X following the initial revelations last week.
"#StrongWomen scare those that seek to destroy our country," the group stated . "We stand with Bridget Ziegler and every other badass woman fighting for kids and America."
But critics like Anne-Marie Principe and others pushed back on that.
"The hypocrisy is real," Principe tweeted . "First, they engaged in the sexual freedoms they want to deny others. Second, the alleged sexual assault of their threesome partner is not only denigrating women, it's a crime. So, I guess you are only about YOUR liberties. #WrongWomen not strong ones."
"What Israel is doing in Gaza right now is one of the most cruel tactics of war I've ever seen," said one healthcare aid worker.
More than 700 people were killed in the Gaza Strip in just 24 hours, the Health Ministry in the besieged territory said Sunday, as Israeli bombings escalated following a brief pause and wider evacuation orders stoke fears of wider displacement and carnage.
According to an Al-Jazeera dispatch :
Overnight and into Sunday, intense bombing was reported in Khan Younis, Rafah, and some northern parts targeted by Israel's air and ground attacks.
"Everywhere you turn to, there are children with third-degree burns, shrapnel wounds, brain injuries and broken bones," James Elder, UNICEF's global spokesperson, told Al Jazeera from Gaza.
"Mothers crying over children who look like they are hours away from death. It seems like a death zone right now."
The Israel Defense Force (IDF) has been dropping evacuation leaflets across the south of Gaza in cities that include Khan Younis, Rafah, and others neighborhoods where many had been told to flee by Israel prior to the recent week-long pause.
The IDF is now using a wholly invented "grid system" to tell Palestinians in Gaza which sectors might be safe and which ones will not, leading to reports of widespread confusion on the ground for those trying to keep themselves and their families safe from the indiscriminate bombing.
"What Israel is doing in Gaza right now is one of the most cruel tactics of war I've ever seen," said Rohan Talbot, director of advocacy and campaigns for the U.K.-based Medical Aid Palestine, on Sunday. "This grid system effectively means people are being chased from square to square, in constant mortal fear. Bombing happens both inside and outside 'unsafe' areas. It's terrorism."
"And they say it's about protecting civilians! People in Gaza are saying they hope to die just to be free from the fear!" Talbot declared. "I use the word terrorism in its specific sense: using violence to intimidate civilians for political aims. Israeli leaders don't hide that this is what they are doing."
In a statement on Sunday, U.N. Human Rights Chief Volker Türk called for an end of the new wave of bombardents and a return to the talks that saw Israeli and Palestinian hostages freed and an increase in humanitarian aid allowed into Gaza.
"Silence the guns and return to dialogue—the suffering inflicted on civilians is too much to bear. More violence is not the answer. It will bring neither peace nor security," Türk said.
"As a result of Israel's conduct of hostilities and its orders for people to leave the north and parts of the south, hundreds of thousands are being confined into ever smaller areas in southern Gaza without proper sanitation, access to sufficient food, water and health supplies, even as bombs rain down around them,” he added "There is no safe place in Gaza."
Last week, it was
that the Israeli military is using artificial intelligence to help generate bombing targets, a situation described as "dystopian" and the "first AI-facilitated genocide in history."
Horrifying scenes were evident across Gaza over the weekend as witnesses shared footage of children killed by the bombings along with the heartbreak and cries of survivors:
In the north, the Jabilia refugee camp, the largest in the Gaza Strip, was bombed again on Saturday.
"More than 100 Palestinians were killed Saturday in a new massacre committed by Israeli occupation forces in the Jabalia refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip," the official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.
The agency said an Israeli missile hit a residential building belonging to the "Obaid family in Jabalia camp" and that "dozens were injured, and many others are still missing under the rubble," in that strike alone.
Meanwhile, Medicin Sans Frontier/MSF doctors reported their rescue vehicles, despite being clearly marked, were targeted by Israeli tanks.
Jason Lee, the Palestine country director for Save the Children, who was in Rafah on Friday, told the Guardian newspaper that what's being witnessed is a fresh population transfer in a country where 1.7 million people—out of an approximate total of 2.3 million—have already been displaced, with most now frantically trying to find safety in the south.
"How is it possible for people to move again? For many, this is not their first evacuation. The scale and scope of this is unprecedented," he said.