Windy City candidates run on a city-owned Bank of Chicago

Chicago candidates Amara Enyia, Ameya Pawar

Chicago candidates Amara Enyia (Mayor), Ameya Pawar (Treasurer). Photo courtesy Chicago Magazine


Amid headline-grabbing scandals in the Windy City, public banking gets a high-profile article in Chicago Magazine, and a full exam by the watchdog group Better Government Association. Edward McClelland quips in Chicago: “Amara Enyia, who’s running for mayor, and Ameya Pawar, who’s running for city treasurer, want to make Chicago more like … North Dakota.

“One of America’s smallest, most conservative states may seem like a strange model for one of its biggest, most progressive cities. A hundred years ago, though, North Dakota was a pretty radical place. Its hard-pressed wheat farmers got tired of paying 12 percent interest to greedy bankers here in Chicago, so they voted to charter a state-run bank, which offered low-interest loans and sold foreclosed farms back to families who had lost them.”

The Chicago Mag profile describes the articulate, grounded ideas the two candidates are bringing forward. ...

McClelland continues:

“Money spent on student loan interest, says Pawar, is ‘money not available for you to buy a home, or for child care.’ The difference between repaying the feds and repaying the city [at a lower interest rate] ‘could be hundreds of dollars a month. That’s hundreds of dollars that goes back into Chicago’s economy.’ Not to mention, the city would collect the interest on those loans. …

“‘With a public bank, there’s no incentive to make money; it’s all about making sure the city is fiscally sound,’ Enyia says. ‘If we’re truly interested in expanding the small business sector, we have to be able to issue low-interest loans to entrepreneurs in the city. We have to assume that risk, because we know that’s an investment on our end in having a more mature, robust business sector.’

“Pawar sees a public bank financing affordable housing, which private banks are reluctant to touch. And Enyia sees a public bank financing the city’s own infrastructure projects, which are now often paid for with bonds.”

The Better Gov profile highlights Pawar’s idea to implement the proposed Green New Deal:

“Pawar also said he supports designating a public bank as the first local partner in the proposed ‘Green New Deal,’ a national economic stimulus plan to address economic inequity and shift the US to renewable energy. …

“‘I think these are dangerous times. We have a president and other financial institutions who like to keep people at the bottom fighting over scraps,’ Pawar said. ‘And I think you don't fight back against that by thinking small.’”

[Read the Chicago Magazine full article]

[Read the Better Government Association full article]

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