Fix the Post Office
Many have noticed the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has really gone downhill for a number of years. The blame for this reduction in service is on past misguided legislation and unions, which have forced USPS to go into a huge amount of debt and to cut services.
In 2006, Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, which was heavily supported by the postal workers’ unions. The bad part was it required USPS to prefund its future retiree health benefits by establishing the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund. The annual fund of $5 billion took up all profits and more. USPS never got out of debt with this legislation. Currently, USPS is in debt over $55 billion and has lost more than half of First-Class mail volume since 2006.
This act also lessened the role of the public in the closure of non-retail postal facilities, the USPS’s authority to provide non-postal products and services and the viability of the USPS’s business model. In a sense, the fox was running the hen house.
When this act was passed, there was a lot of faith in the postal system, as we could depend on it. And those who were employed by USPS were fixed for life.
Rural areas of America depend on their post offices, and to have a local office ripped away from a community without input just took the heart out of these communities.
Currently, USPS is on the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) “at-risk list” because of its debt and inability to provide a cash flow. Congress has been bailing them out along the way.
What hurt newspapers and other publishers was when USPS, between 2012 and 2015, shuttered more than half of its mail processing facilities, mostly in smaller towns and cities. This is why in the Roundup’s region, your paper has to go either through Denver, Salt Lake, Rapid City or Billings. And for every post office it goes through, it can take up to 72 hours at each stop. All of these changes have led to numerous disruptions in mail service.
Last year, the U.S. House Committee on Oversite and Reform Chair and Ranking Member introduced the Postal Service Reform Act of 2021. This bill contains the essential elements of integrating USPS retirees into the Medicare system and restructuring the obligations imposed by the 2006 law.
A significant improvement is, for the first time ever, the bill would make permanent the six-day delivery requirement which has come up every year for review. It also requires USPS to provide delivery for mail and packages via an integrated network, helping ensure USPS pursues efficiencies of scope and scale. It’s just what we’re looking for.
This bill, House Resolution 3076, has passed through the U.S. House on a non-partisan vote and I understand, on the Senate side, Senate File 1720, will soon be coming up for discussion and a vote. We need to contact our Senators and voice our approval of these bills and our wishes for the bill to pass the Senate. It will be a non-partisan vote and hopefully politics will stand back for the bill to pass.
While some want the government to get out of the post office business, we need this bill to allow USPS to deliver mail in a timely manner until further discussion takes place.