Among the very worst ideas for “reforming” the United States Postal Service are proposals to end Saturday delivery and to shift from at-the-door delivery of mail to a scheme that would force Americans to go to collect letters and packages from central delivery spots.
Both approaches would diminish the scope and character of the postal service while increasing the likelihood that private firms will move in to fill the void.
These are the sort of ideas that are peddled by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chair Darrell Issa, R-California, and others who target the USPS for deep cuts. Unfortunately, they’ve turned up in the Obama administration’s budget.
As The Hill reports:
Obama’s budget would allow USPS to scrap all Saturday delivery—even packages, one of the most rapidly growing parts of the Postal Service’s business. USPS in recent months has shown more interest in expanding when it delivers packages, with Sunday delivery now in limited areas.
The White House budget would also allow USPS to move away from door-to-door delivery to more centralized delivery areas, an idea also panned by Democrats. Plus, USPS could keep a recent temporary increase in the price of stamps—which large mailers loathe—beyond the scheduled two years.
According to the Obama administration, these reforms—along with a proposal to tinker with some of the immediate requirements for pre-funding retiree healthcare benefits seventy-five years into the future—“would set USPS on a sustainable business path, providing it with over $20 billion in cash relief, operational savings and revenue through 2016.”
But that’s not how the people who deliver the mail, and who have battled to preserve the postal service, see it.
American Postal Workers Union president Mark Dimondstein says the administration budget echoes “misguided policies…for severe cutbacks that will harm service, drive away business, and eliminate jobs.”
“The budget fails to eliminate the pre-funding requirement of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, which is the fundamental cause of the Postal Service’s manufactured financial crisis,” says Dimondstein, who adds that “with the Postal Service posting operating profits in mail and package delivery, there is absolutely no justification to continue a strategy of austerity. Rather than damaging the infrastructure and network that is essential for providing service, the Postal Service must expand service.”
That’s a message that a new alliance of postal unions—the APWU, the National Association of Letter Carriers, the National Postal Mail Handlers Union and the National Rural Letter Carriers Association—wants to communicate to the president and his budget team. The unions offered this week to meet with the White House to discuss strategies for strengthening the postal service—from changes in shipping rules to the development of a postal banking system along lines proposed by US Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts.