The Post Office Problems are Bigger, and Older, Than Politicians Will Admit
Article from For Liberty by Norm Leahy.
The U.S. Postal Service finds itself at the center of a partisan political storm over mail-in ballots expected to be used in the Nov. 3 election. But as with most political storms that sweep through official Washington, this one contains a lot of spins, and a heaping portion of hot air.
As Reason Magazine’s Eric Boehm notes:
Both sides have been blowing the issue out of proportion. President Donald Trump has alleged that the more widespread use of mail-in voting is ripe for fraud, but there is no evidence to support that claim; Trump himself has voted by mail as recently as March of this year. Democrats, meanwhile, believe DeJoy is engaged in a nefarious plot to disenfranchise Americans, even though the expected uptick in mail volume around the election would fall well within the post office’s usual capabilities.
The Postal Service’s problems have been thoroughly documented over the years, including extensive analysis from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
According to the GAO, the Postal Service’s problems have materially worsened over the last decade and more:
Poor financial situation: USPS’s overall financial condition is deteriorating and unsustainable. USPS has lost $69 billion over the past 11 fiscal years—including $3.9 billion in fiscal year 2018. USPS’s total unfunded liabilities and debt ($143 billion at the end of fiscal year 2018) have grown to double its annual revenue.
Insufficient cost savings: The savings from USPS cost-reduction efforts have dwindled in recent years. Although USPS has stated that it will aggressively reduce costs within its control, its plans will not achieve the kind of savings necessary to significantly reduce current operating costs.
Unfavorable trends: USPS’s expenses are now growing faster than its revenues—partly due to rising compensation and benefits costs and continuing declines in the volume of First-Class Mail.
It’s good, then, that the political class is finally paying attention to the problems that have festered for so long in plain sight. It would be even better were they serious about postal reforms – including ending the postal monopoly on first-class mail.