The city of Oakland already offers residents a municipal ID card, a form of identification thought to help undocumented immigrants, in particular, who might otherwise fear reporting crimes, or labor or housing violations. Now, they’ve upped the ante, becoming the first city to add a pre-paid debit-card function to its ID.
Residents can reload the card at Western Union, direct-deposit paychecks to it, withdraw cash from it at ATMs, and shop with it like any other pre-paid Mastercard.
Governing has an interesting look today at how the whole thing is going. With nearly one in 10 households considered “unbanked” in the U.S., Oakland’s initiative is part an effort by many cities to broaden the financial options available to low-wage workers beyond check-cashing stores and payday lenders. The challenges of being “unbanked” are also related to those of being undocumented. As J.B. Wogan writes:
A municipal ID card with a debit feature may be the natural evolution of those two movements. The same people who lack official identification are likely to be unbanked or underbanked. Undocumented immigrants, for instance, often become targets for robberies because they carry cash — instead of storing money in banks — and are less likely to report crimes to the police. Theoretically, it makes some sense for cities to tackle both issues with the same program.
Oakland has also couched the program as a crime-reduction strategy. But Wogan writes that the ID/debit card (you can sign up for the former without the latter) has received considerable criticism for the fees attached to it: They include a 75-cent transaction fee, a $1.50 ATM withdrawal fee, and a $2.99 monthly service fee. All of which pretty quickly adds up to a serious burden on people who receive their weekly payday in cash.
Oakland and the company managing the program suggest that the fees will go down as the idea catches on, creating economies of scale. Consumer advocates so far don’t seem sold. Could an improvement on the same idea work better somewhere else? What would that look like?
What We're Following See More »
On a party-line vote, "the House Judiciary Committee defeated a Democratic effort Tuesday to obtain any information the Justice Department has on possible conflicts, ethical violations or improper connections to Russia by President Donald Trump and his associates. The committee’s Republican chairman, Bob Goodlatte, opposed the resolution, even as he acknowledged the Justice Department hasn’t acted on his own request for a briefing on alleged Russian interference with the U.S. election and potential ties to the Trump campaign." He said he'll be sending a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions requesting him to pursue "all legitimate investigative leads" into those matters.
"President Donald Trump won’t sign a revised travel ban on Wednesday as had been anticipated, two senior administration officials confirmed. One of the officials indicated that the delay was due to the busy news cycle, and that when Trump does sign the revised order, he wanted it to get plenty of attention."
Near the end of his speech Tuesday, Donald Trump made a firm proclamation affirming his support for NATO. "We strongly support NATO, an alliance forged through the bonds of two World Wars that dethroned fascism, and a Cold War that defeated communism," Trump said. However, he continued on, "our partners must meet their financial obligations."
In his address to a joint session of Congress, Donald Trump called on the two chambers "to repeal and replace Obamacare with reforms that expand choice, increase access, lower costs, and at the same time, provide better Healthcare." The entire section of Republican members of Congress united in a standing ovation, while Democrats sat silently, with some even giving a thumbs down to the cameras. At one point, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was shown shaking her head in disapproval. While Trump called for the repeal and replacement of Obamacare, he failed to give any specifics, though he did say those with preexisting conditions should have access to care and give flexibility back to the states.