The US Postal Service says nothing about pandemics or lockdowns in its currency. Nevertheless, over the past two years, American postmen have stayed hard at work and kept the nation going.
It’s important to keep that in mind as Congress begins to wrestle again with the thorny issue of postal reform.
To give credit where credit is due, U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy proved to be an outstanding administrator. Throughout the lockdown, the post continued to deliver mail and packages together across the country, six days a week.
During the last holiday season, despite the pandemic, it delivered more than 13.2 billion letters, cards and parcels, in an average of three days. This is a significant increase over last year, made possible in large part because reforms already enacted as part of DeJoy’s 10-year operational improvements and strategic investment plan have increased daily processing capacity. than 13 million packages.
The Universal Service Obligation of the Postal Service means that residents of rural states have the same access and service as those in urban areas. This has made it a vital lifeline across America during shutdowns, providing access to needed household items and essential medicines.
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DeJoy runs the Postal Service like a business, not like a federal agency, which some of his congressional allies still want it to be.
People forget that postage and parcel delivery services fund its day-to-day operations, not taxpayers’ money. Yet, if it were to ever go bankrupt, it would be the taxpayers who would have to fund the bailout.
Some free marketers would prefer that all aspects of mail and parcel delivery be handled by the private sector. It might make sense one day, but it would require a universal service requirement to be imposed on it as well – if the level of service were to remain the same.
For the moment, none of this is on the table. The only thing under consideration is how to build on DeJoy’s already successful reforms so that the Postal Service can continue to do what we all expect of it.
The bill soon to be introduced in Congress is a step in the right direction, especially since its rural delivery provision, known as Section 202, ensures that mail and packages will continue to be delivered together, efficiently, to all addresses in the continental United States at least six days a week. This is, as DeJoy said, “a central aspect of our universal service mission.”
The postal reform bill has bipartisan support because it is good. Republican Missouri Senator Josh Hawley said that once signed into law, the bill “would help put the Postal Service on a path to self-sustaining financial sustainability that will guarantee six-day service, protect delivery in mid rural and will ensure that all Americans have reliable, uninterrupted access to their mail.
No invoice is perfect. More could be done to make the postal service more efficient. There is always more but there is no time to waste. The Postal Service has important things to do — like making sure the 1 billion million home COVID test kits President Joe Biden wants them to deliver get to where they’re supposed to go.
Politicians debating reform should focus on that rather than use it as a political football by saying things like, as the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee recently did in a fundraising email fund: “For years now, Americans have faced the devastating effects of Donald Trump’s Postmaster General. Louis DeJoy’s delays, cutbacks and sabotage have been a key part of the direct attack on Trump and the GOP against postal voting – and they are only getting worse.
It’s a dishonest assessment of DeJoy’s performance and an unfair blow to the hundreds of thousands of diligent and determined people who bring mail and packages to your front door “in rain, sleet, snow and sleet.” ‘darkness of night’.
By voting for the upcoming postal reform package, Congress has the opportunity to keep what works without increasing costs.
Maintaining the user-funded structure preserves the long-term viability of the Postal Service while making the possibility of a taxpayer-funded bailout much less likely.
The bill is worth supporting in addition to the reforms already underway by DeJoy and the Postal Service itself.
Peter Roff is a former UPI and US News & World Report columnist who is now affiliated with several Washington, DC-based public policy organizations. Contact Roff at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @PeterRoff.