MHP   |  August 03, 2013

Why more than a million people can’t get a checking account

Banks don't like providing services to low-income people, who keep low balances. A New York Times investigation found that more than a million low-income Americans are blacklisted from opening a bank account because of minor past mistakes, like bouncing a check. Melissa Harris-Perry’s panelists continue the conversation.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> last week we told you about the growing phenomenon of prepaid payroll cards, which companies are increasingly using to pay their workers rather than checks or direct deposit . and some of those cards charge fees that can be $30 or more a month. the cards can be the best choice for workers without a bank account if their only other choice is a check cashing service. but why don't they have bank accounts ? well, one of the reasons is that banks don't like providing services to low-income people who keep low balances. a "new york times" investigation found this week that more than 1 million low-income americans are blacklisted from opening a bank account , because of minor past mistakes, like bouncing a check. so this feels to me -- i was like, okay, you've got no food stamps , no safety net , and you can't even get a checking account .

>> i think it just shows that it is incredibly expensive to be poor in this country and to be working poor . no matter --

>> please say that again. please say that.

>> it is incredibly expensive to be poor in this country and to be a working poor . and that is something at paul ryan 's hearing, or a lot of the rhetoric around these issues, doesn't acknowledge. is that working people are working extremely hard. they are trying to find full-time hours when they can get them. they are working two jobs, as apparent the mcdonald's budget calculator suggest that they do to make ends meet. and they are not getting ahead. and every single policy that pushes them further and further down the income ladder hurts us all. because we need their consumer spending ads, jamal says, if we want to drive the economy forward. so it's just another stupid policy that lawmakers really need to address.

>> do democrats have enough oomph to take -- to say that. to take this on and to run on it in 2014 and '16?

>> the real answer is probably no, because the reality is, most people who vote, when you're sitting in front of a democratic map, you're looking at the voters, prime voters. most people who vote, particularly in a midterm election , are going to be people who go to work for a living and probably who make a little bit more money when they go to work than people who make $9 an hour. so the benefit of the obama coalition, is president obama was a figure who inspired people who made a little bit less money to go out and vote, so it changed some of the math about elections. which is tougher to do in a midterm. the reality, though, is until we figure out how we handle this, we are not going to have an economy that is growing. because we just are not putting enough money in enough of the people's hands who are going to do well. if we think about what's happening with our gridlock, the average male worker makes $900 less in real terms than he did in the late 1960s . these men, particularly middle-aged, white guys in the country, who have seen their wages stagnate, their wives have to go to work, their kids have to come back home, and no one's really talking to them about how do they make things better. and they're pissed, excuse me my language. and they are stopping action in congress --

>> so, right, but so, i was going to say, so, david, how do we get that angry white man, with the depressed wages, how do we get him to see his interest as connected to that of tianna's rather than in opposition to tianna's?

>> this is all government policy , this is not economics. we have to get them to see, you know, you were better off when 35% of private workers worked in the union, because 80% of workers' wages were effectively set by union policies. the companies didn't give you health care out of the goodness of their hearts, they did it because you have some power. and that's the problem. we don't have markets for labor anymore. we have an asymmetrical situation, where all the knowledge and power is over here, and the workers are individualized and we have flooded the market since the elimination of welfare as we knew it in 1995 , with low- skilled workers , particularly single mothers .

>> what about bank account ability, those? i keep trying to think coalition building. is bank accountability something that republicans could get in line with, and say, hey, this isn't even reasonable that people can't even get a bank account .

>> when i was on financial institutions , the clinton administration , everybody charged the hill and said glass-steagall was 1932 , it's old, you've got to get rid of it. and then of course once we got rid of it, we altered it. then dodd/frank had to come in, because something had to be done about these monsters. and the end result was there was a bailout and they didn't want transparency. there's been a whole history of this. republicans and democrats can grab this issue and do the right thing to do, which is to make this a fair and balanced system. and what's good for one is good for the other. and there can't be a level where the banks are above the people in this process. it just can't continue.

>> the quote of the hour, it is expensive to be poor in america.

>>> coming up next, i swear, asteroid politics. congress takes their fight to outer space . this is not a metaphor. this actually happened. and a major milestone for schools in the nation's capital. there is, of course, more nerdland at the top of the hour. now it's stirred. let's get a