Editorial: Biparty Bill Could Save Post | Editorials
This editorial was written by the editorial board of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A bipartisan group of US senators has introduced a bill to begin reforming the beleaguered US Postal Service, which is financially crushed by pension spending and declining demand.
The main goal of the legislation is to repeal $ 5 billion a year in mandatory health care spending for retirees and require retirees to enroll in Medicare, a move that enjoys strong support from both sides. , but some concerns could be threatened by a federal investigation into USPS leadership issues. .
There should be no delay in the passage. This bill will not solve all the problems facing the postal service, but it is a sensible first step towards financial strength and should be approved and passed by lawmakers and then quickly enacted by President Joe Biden. .
The 2020 presidential election has drawn public attention to the woes of the Postal Service, as Americans voted by mail in record numbers due to the coronavirus pandemic. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, appointed in May 2020, has tried to reorganize the department’s finances and regroup, but USPS delivery times have increased and more letters and packages have missed their targets. Delivery.
Just as this important legislation weaves its way through the system, there are fears that progress may be hampered by a DeJoy-related investigation and political fundraising at his now defunct North Carolina business. DeJoy has denied having committed any intentional wrongdoing and allegedly cooperated with the FBI investigation. This may take place in conjunction with the passage of the USPS reform initiative.
The root of the USPS ‘financial problems extends to the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006, which forced the Postal Service to prepay for health care benefits at retirement. These liabilities, along with other unfunded pension benefits, represent approximately three-quarters of the organization’s debt. Its total debt currently stands at approximately $ 188.4 billion.
Removing the responsibility of retirees for health care would therefore be an immediate and much needed balm.
The Senate bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, is identical to an advanced House bill and could save the Postal Service $ 30 billion over the next decade. It will also help the USPS create an online public dashboard where citizens can check service delivery metrics and enable post offices to offer non-postal services to local governments such as the sale of hunting licenses. and fishing. This is a narrowly tailored, common sense approach that already has the momentum to overcome any partisan hesitation.
In the future, additional changes will be necessary. The USPS saw demand for parcel delivery skyrocket last year. Under DeJoy, the service plans to slow down its courier services and increase prices while moving towards prioritizing parcel delivery. Additionally, some Democratic lawmakers have advocated testing a pilot program for post offices to provide certain banking services. More than 60 million Americans do not have a bank account, according to a Federal Reserve study, either because of lack of access to physical bank locations, high fees or low confidence in financial institutions. This idea must be taken up.
In the meantime, Congress should resist the distraction and stay focused on the task at hand – reform, capitalizing on the bipartisan momentum behind the current bill. It’s one way to get the USPS started on a path to sustainable solvency.
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