The Postal Service is Essential — Now is Not the Time to Politicize It
Despite the bipartisanship coronavirus stimulus negotiations, Democrats’ desire to shore up the USPS as a part of the coronavirus relief has hit a partisan roadblock.
by Colin Mortimer | Director of the Neoliberal Project at PPI
The United States Postal Service (USPS), like many other businesses right now, is in dire straits. Solicitation mailer volume, a major revenue source for the USPS, has dried up as businesses remain shut down. On Thursday, the Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan informed Congress that the nation’s mail service would need $89 billion or else it would run out of cash by September.
Despite the bipartisanship coronavirus stimulus negotiations, Democrats’ desire to shore up the USPS as a part of the coronavirus relief has hit a partisan roadblock. This roadblock has been led largely by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who told lawmakers during the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act negotiations that “You can have a loan, or you can have nothing at all” in response to the original provision that would have given the postal service a $13 billion grant to alleviate its financial woes. The USPS eventually received a $10 billion line of credit as part of the bill, which the postal agency has yet to draw on.
Coronavirus is the spark igniting various underlying problems the USPS has had for years. Much of these problems are derived from its most basic mandate: to deliver the mail to every American, regardless of where they may be located. This mandate has become harder to fulfill each year, as internet-driven innovations have made letters a relic of the past, even as the costs of fulfilling this mandate remain the same.
Beyond just its basic mandate, the USPS is hampered by other onerous Congressional regulations that no other federal agency or private company is saddled with. That includes the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA), which required the USPS to prefund the healthcare retirement benefits for its employees 75 years into the future. While the bill might sound innocuous or even prudent on its face, it has been criticized as “the most insane law by Congress, ever.” That is because Congress gave the USPS 10 years to create this $56 billion…