A bipartisan group of Representatives sent a letter to Secretary Geithner today. The letter shows their concern over Treasury's announced plan to eliminate over-the-counter sales of paper savings bonds. The group is led by Reps. Richard Neal (D-MA) and Jim Gerlach (R-PA) and includes Reps. Petri, Tsongas and Pitts, all Co-Chairs of the Congressional Savings and Ownership Caucus. The key issues with the new policy:
- The change requires purchasers to use the TreasuryDirect website going forward.
- TreasuryDirect stinks.
- TreasuryDirect requires a bank account and millions of Americans lack bank accounts. And;
- Lots of likely bond buyers lack reliable internet access.
The signers of the letter are asking that Treasury not eliminate the over-the-counter purchase option until they have a solution in place that works for all Americans. Here's the key graph:
We ask that you delay the phase out of the paper savings bonds until a tested and effective replacement strategy is available. It is counterproductive to eliminate a safe, secure and reliable savings option from the marketplace when many low-and moderate-income families utilize such options and when alternative savings opportunities are not available to them.
Technology has come a long way on this front, pre-paid/reloadable cards might be one model that works as a replacement for paper. The bottom line from my perspective is that we should be making safe and reliable savings vehicles MORE accessible at this time, not less. Treasury actually has a pretty good record on this front in the last few years, but this change would be a step backward if they don't listen to the rarest bird in Washington, DC (a bipartisan group of House members) and institute an effective replacement.