The coronavirus pandemic sweeping the country has had a drastic effect upon the U.S. Postal Service, as it has on all other activities of our daily lives. It is projected that the Postal Service faces bankruptcy this summer without emergency help from Congress. With Congress coming back into session very soon, they will be considering additional stimulus funds for affected businesses. The Postal Service is seeking emergency aid and it is being opposed by the present administration. The president accuses the Postal Service of mismanagement, falsely claiming that the service is losing money by handling Amazon packages. The president has a grudge against the owner of Amazon who also owns the Washington Post.
The Postal Service traces its origin to the United States Constitution. The founding fathers granted congress the power to establish Post Offices and Post Roads in Section Eight of Article 1 of the document. The post office agency was known as the Postal Department until 1971 when President Nixon signed a Postal Reorganization Act establishing the quasi-government, self sustaining U.S. Postal Service to function under a Board of Governors. The agency has no access to tax-payer dollars.
The Postal Service has operated in debt in recent years largely due to an enactment in 2006 by Congress requiring the agency to deposit five billion dollars annually for ten years into a pre-fund designed to cover retiree health benefits over a 75-year period. With the advent of the internet in the meantime, a drastic loss of first class mail has cut deeply into postal revenue. The Postal Service has defaulted on the pre-fund deposit in recent years.
The president has hinted often of a desire to privatize the Postal Service. Before the present crisis, it was projected that the Postal Service would run out of cash in 2014. To avoid this, postal reform legislation is required to rescue the agency. Two attempts have been made in Congress to accomplish this with little success. Prior to leaving Congress, Jason Chafetz co-sponsored a bi-partisan bill with the late Congressman Cummings, calling for the elimination of the pre-funding along with other reform items. Later, Senator Carper sponsored another postal reform bill in the Senate, similar to the Chafetz-Cummings proposal. Both bills died in committee.
Question: Is the Senate and the administration holding up any postal reform and now denying any emergency funds in hopes of seeing the bankruptcy of the Postal Service? This would be an excuse for privatizing the agency.
The Postal Service annually is voted the most trusted agency of the federal government by the American public. With 630,000 employees, many of them veterans, it is the only entity to reach every household and business daily and handles millions of pieces of mail daily. Should the Postal Service fold later this year, it will also scuttle voting by mail. Is this another goal of the present administration?
Walt Borla retired from the Postal Service after a 45-year career that included stints as Postmaster of Huntington and Helper and an assignment at Postal headquarters in Washington DC.
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