While Democrats accuse President Trump of trying to crush the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) or leverage its funding for political gain, the Wall Street Journal's editorial board argued Friday that the agency's real problem is its outdated, bloated business model.
Recently confirmed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has been under intense fire from Democrats this week, with 175 House lawmakers accusing him of "implementing policies that accelerate the crisis at the Postal Service, including directing Post Offices to no longer treat all election mail as First Class." The Democrats argued that such a policy "will cause further delays to election mail that will disenfranchise voters."
In addition, according to the Journal, Trump spoke a "foolish line" Thursday when he said that without a fully-funded postal service, "you can't have universal mail-in voting."
"Millions of mail ballots are coming, ready or not, and Mr. DeJoy has already insisted that 'the Postal Service has ample capacity to deliver all election mail securely and on-time,'" the Journal wrote. "The USPS has projected that it won’t run out of cash until 2021."
However, the board pointed out the latest crisis stems directly from the decades-long financial woes of the USPS -- for which Congress, not the president, bears the blame.
"The post office is meant to be self-sufficient, but it hasn’t broken even for years. Total losses since 2007 run to $78 billion" the board wrote, noting that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has declared the USPS "not financially sustainable."
"Apparently [critics] missed the post office’s news release last Friday, when it reported losing another $2.2 billion last quarter. Congress has only itself to blame for this mess."
In the digital age, the Journal explained, snail mail has taken a backseat to email and online commerce, with more than 50% of letters composed of marketing materials and flyers.
"There are more addresses than ever, but less mail than at any time since 1985 ... The USPS’s package-delivery business is growing, but it can’t make up the difference.
"A misalignment like this wouldn’t last in private business, but the Postal Service answers to politicians," wrote the board, which also pointed out that USPS workforce is organized by seven different unions.
As a result, the board wrote, federal lawmakers typically throw a fit if the USPS threatens to close an underutilized or rural post office in their congressional district.
For his part, DeJoy has raised further ire by freezing executive hiring, pointing to "substantial declines in mail volume" and "a broken business model and [inadequate] management strategy."
The board points out that lawmakers who claim DeJoy is merely a Trump yes-man ignore the fact he built a trucking company from the ground up, revealing an important background in logistics.
"Democrats’ big idea is to shovel money at the USPS," the board added. "What it requires is reform. Privatization can’t pass Congress, so ignore that boogeyman. But lawmakers could give the USPS more freedom to act like a business: to raise prices if warranted; to close lonely, desolate post offices; to stop Saturday mail — or Wednesday mail if it comes to that."
Without substantive or thoughtful reform measures, the Journal warned, a "President Biden" will undoubtedly throw the USPS a taxpayer-funded bailout lifeline.