The United States Postal Service told Congress in video testimony that the coronavirus pandemic had decimated its finances, putting the service $13 billion in the hole for the year. The service is telling Congress that without emergency aid, it will be insolvent by the end of September.
“The Postal Service was technically insolvent to begin with, but the pandemic has completely changed the environment here. The mail volume drop is catastrophic,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Virginia Democrat and the chairman of the oversight subcommittee that oversees the USPS.
The threat to the US mail system caused by coronavirus and the resulting economic downturn has prompted the Postal Service to ask Congress for a $75 billion boost to help keep it afloat as hundreds of thousands of mail carriers and postal workers continue working during the pandemic. House Democrats say the postal service is asking for $25 billion in direct funding, another $25 billion in “unrestricted borrowing authority from Treasury” and $25 billion in grants to help “modernize” the post office.
If “modernizing” the USPS means reforming the antiquated, 1950s labor policies they use then they will get the backing of many Republicans. But that’s not likely, so a request for $75 billion will probably fall on deaf ears.
Donald Trump is none too keen on giving the postal service much of anything. He believes they should start charging shippers like Amazon what it’s costing them to deliver their packages.
President Donald Trump has brushed questions aside about a major cash infusion for the Postal Service, having long blamed the economic woes on companies like Amazon.
“They have to raise the prices to these companies that walk in and drop thousands of packages on the floor of the Post Office and say, ‘Deliver it,'” Trump said at a press briefing this week. “And if they’d raise the prices by actually a lot, then you’d find out that the Post Office could make money or break even. But they don’t do that. And I’m trying to figure out why.”
The problem is the prohibitive cost of delivering mail to every corner of America. There’s just no way to make any money delivering mail to many rural areas — not enough volume or customers. But those customers get their mail six days a week just like anyone else and pay the same amount to mail a letter or a package.
There has been talk of privatizing some of the $70 billion concern, but nothing ever comes of it. Closing some rural post offices and ending Saturday delivery has been proposed, but shut down by Democrats largely due to the influence of the Postal Workers Union.
But it appears that this time, something is going to have to give. Congress will almost certainly give the USPS something, but there’s little chance they’ll get anywhere near $75 billion. They will continue to limp along, lurching from crisis to crisis, and Congress will continue to bail them out.
Until an alternative comes along or Congress shuts them down.