If history is any guide, Republicans will definitely try to further weaken and privatize the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). As per their usual strategy, they will claim the Postal Service is losing money, even though those losses are due to a Congressional mandate that USPS must fund the next seventy-five years of retirement benefits over a ten year time period–something no private mail carrier could possibly due (it’s all the more absurd because USPS has been overcharged already by at least $50 billion on pensions). The most recent installment of this chicanery (boldface mine):
The U.S. Postal Service delivers to 155 million homes and businesses from coast to coast, six and increasingly seven days a week. It’s based in the Constitution, is consistently rated the public’s most-trusted federal agency, and delivers 47 percent of the world’s mail.
It’s also the centerpiece of the $1.3 trillion national mailing industry, which employs 7 million Americans in the private sector, including 966,901 Californians.
Yet, there is a surprising amount of public misunderstanding about this American treasure, such as the notion of an agency losing billions of dollars a year because of the Internet, making it the victim of ineluctable technological progress….
For starters, the Postal Service actually is operating in the black. USPS revenue exceeded operating expenses by $610 million in Fiscal Year 2016, bringing its total operating profit the past three years to $3.2 billion. Bear in mind that this is all earned revenue; by law USPS gets no tax dollars….
There is red ink but it has nothing to do with the mail and everything to do with congressional politics. In 2006, a lame-duck Congress mandated that the Postal Service pre-fund future retiree health benefits.
No other public agency or private company has to do this even one year in advance; USPS must pre-fund these benefits decades into the future. That $5.8 billion annual charge not only accounts for the ‘red ink’, it disguises the actual profits postal operations have been generating for years.
One of the casualties of this Republican-led effort could be postal workers’ salaries and their unions. Democrats sure as hell better fight for these workers.