Faced with a crash in mail volume and revenue due to closures to battle the coronavirus pandemic—right when the country needs the Postal Service the most to help get vital food, medicine, and other life-saving goods to everyone—Postmaster General Megan Brennan asked Congress for a combination of $75 billion in cash and credit to keep going through the financial disaster.
Her April 9 video briefing request, to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which handles postal legislation, drew immediate support from the nation’s two big postal unions, the Letter Carriers (NALC) and the Postal Workers (APWU).
Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, the volume of mail delivered by the US Postal Service has drastically declined. Businesses have cut back on sending advertisements and bulk mail — the agency’s main source of revenue — leaving it on track to possibly run out of money by September.
To save its services, the agency is asking Congress for $89 billion. Democrats want to meet the USPS’s needs and ensure funding in the next coronavirus relief bill. Republicans, however, are seizing this as an opportunity to privatize the agency, an agenda they’ve been pushing for years. President Donald Trump is also on board, refusing to sign a new bill that includes funding for the postal service.
The president’s disapproval of the agency is well-documented. In the past, he’s pushed for service cuts in the fiscal budget and indicated that he wanted the USPS to raise rates for packages. However, these actions would have dire consequences for Americans, especially those below the poverty line who live in remote areas and rely heavily on the USPS for their mail.
The absence of the USPS would particularly affect indigenous people living in tribal lands, as there are already few resources dedicated to keeping them connected with the world, said Twyla Baker, of the Mandan-Hidatsa tribe in North Dakota.
New York Times
Like so many businesses, the United States Postal Service has been hit hard by the coronavirus. Mail volume is down nearly a third over this time last year and continues to fall. The Postal Service is predicting $13 billion in lost revenue this fiscal year as a direct result of the pandemic. In an April 9 telebriefing to the House Oversight and Reform Committee, the postmaster general, Megan Brennan, warned that without financial assistance the agency could run out of money by the end of September.
The Postal Service cannot be allowed to crumble in the midst of a national emergency. Though organized as a self-sustaining quasi-governmental enterprise, run without taxpayer funding, it is not just another business. Even in an increasingly wired world, the agency’s mandate of “universal service” provides a lifeline to remote areas. As this pandemic rages, its 600,000-plus employees are working to ensure that Americans receive their prescriptions and protective equipment and other essential items, no matter where they live. Nearly 500 postal workers have tested positive for the virus, with hundreds more suspected of having it, according to The Washington Post.
Last month, US Postal Service workers delivered “President Trump’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America” to households across the country. But Trump, of course, has no interest in helping the agency he relied on to get out his message and feels no patriotic duty to support postal workers who are on the front lines of essential service delivery during the coronavirus pandemic, putting their own health at risk to supply all Americans with medicine, supplies, and information.
Instead, the Trump administration has a long-range plan to privatize the Postal Service. In the meantime, the president wrongly blames longstanding financial problems on a package delivery deal the US Postal Service has with Amazon.
The US Postal Service (USPS) is in financial trouble. It’s losing about $2 billion a month as mail marketers halt campaigns due to the sudden pandemic-induced economic meltdown.
Yet the federal agency is more essential than ever, delivering mail to the most remote American addresses. And it will only become more critical as the November presidential election approaches and mail-in voting grows more appealing.
The United States Postal Service has warned that it will “run out of cash” by the fall without intervention—and Donald Trump appears unwilling to help. According to the Washington Post, the president vowed to veto the $2 trillion rescue package Congress passed last month if it contained any bailout money for this crucial independent agency, which has been under additional strain due to the coronavirus crisis. He has instead called for USPS to “raise the prices” on companies like Amazon. “They ought to do that, and we are looking into it,” the president said Wednesday. “We’ve been pushing them now for over a year.”
Trump has frequently attacked USPS, roping the agency into his long-running blood feud with Amazon and its founder, Jeff Bezos, who also owns another Trump target: the Washington Post. Trump has said the company costs the postal service “massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy,” calling for USPS to raise their prices—something experts and the USPS Board of Governors have recommended against. Already on unstable financial footing, the postal service had the rug pulled out from underneath it by the COVID pandemic. “The Postal Service was technically insolvent to begin with, but the pandemic has completely changed the environment here,” Democratic Representative Gerry Connolly, whose oversight subcommittee oversees the agency, told CNN. “The mail volume drop is catastrophic.” The service has asked for $75 billion to stay afloat, but the White House has rejected pleas for help.
New York Magazine
As Americans shelter in place across the country, the U.S. Postal Service has assumed special importance in their lives. Postal workers deliver medicines and toiletries; in states that allow voting by mail, they help democracy function. But the economic crisis created by the novel coronavirus has dealt a serious blow to the USPS, and the Trump administration isn’t prepared to help. The recent stimulus package omitted any assistance for the USPS, which employs over 600,000 people. “We told them very clearly that the president was not going to sign the bill if [money for the Postal Service] was in it,” an anonymous White House aide told the Washington Post. “I don’t know if we used the V-bomb, but the president was not going to sign it, and we told them that.”
Though the pandemic has created an acute crisis for the USPS, the postal service has been vulnerable for a long time. To conservatives, it’s an obstacle in the path to small government, and some support its full privatization. A 2006 law requiring the postal service to fund retirement health benefits ahead of time created further financial strain. The Trump White House may believe it has a rare opportunity before it to allow the USPS to die. That would be a disaster for workers, and for the millions of Americans who rely on the postal service.
In These Times
Among the most prominent victims of the coronavirus financial crisis is the United States Postal Service, which could quite literally run out of money to operate if the federal government does not approve a rescue package for it soon. The Trump administration—which, like much of the GOP, has long advocated for cutbacks and privatization of the postal service—actively prevented the USPS from being bailed out in the CARES Act, even as Donald Trump has made a show of publicly thanking Fedex and UPS for their work. Not very subtle.
Fifty years ago last month, U.S. postal workers staged an unprecedented and historic eight-day strike, backing down the Nixon administration and winning the right to collective bargaining. A half century later, Mark Dimondstein, the leader of the 200,000-strong American Postal Workers Union, says that the Trump administration is using today’s crisis as an opportunity to destroy the postal service as a public entity once and for all. In These Times spoke to Dimondstein about the existential peril facing postal workers, and what they plan to do about it.
International Business Times
For many Americans, checking the mailbox is a daily ritual, a constant in a quickly changing world that can yield anything from wedding invitations to tax audits to new clothes.
But as with many ordinary things as the coronavirus crisis unfolds, the US Postal Service — already compromised by a mountain of debt — has a most uncertain future.
“The Postal Service is holding on for dear life,” congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat who chairs the House Oversight Committee, said last week.