Wednesday, February 5th marked a huge win for the US Postal Service. During the day’s proceedings, the House of Representatives voted to pass the USPS Fairness Act with a vote of 309 to 106. The USPS Fairness Act (H.R. 2382) specifically moves to repeal a Congressional mandate enacted in 2006 that has financially crippled USPS ever since. This legislation requires USPS to set aside huge amounts of money in order to “pre-fund” postal employees’ retirement and healthcare costs 75 years into the future. How huge is “huge,” one might ask? Approximately $72 billion, give or take.
Without Pre-Funding Legislation, USPS Would Have Reported Profits From 2013-2018
The fact that the USPS Fairness Act is now moving onto the Senate is a huge win for the Postal Service. The pre-funding legislation that Congress enacted in 2006 is the main reason why USPS is in dire financial straits. In fact, if USPS didn’t have to set aside money to create this $72 billion fund, the organization would have reported operating profits every year between 2013 to 2018.
While the solution to repeal pre-funding legislation now seems obvious, this wasn’t always the case. President Trump even created a Postal Task Force to determine why USPS kept losing so much money. Fortunately, lawmakers now realize that Congress has nobody to blame but themselves.
Representative Peter DeFazio of Oregon (who initially proposed the bill) summed up the issue best during the proceedings:
“[It’s time] at long last to undo this stupidity,” he remarked.
The House Passing the USPS Fairness Act is Just the First Step to Postal Reform
While the USPS Fairness Act is a great step in the right direction, it isn’t everything USPS needs to get back on 100% solid footing. Policymakers must also consider additional revenue streams that would simultaneously service the public, such as offering parcel delivery seven days a week instead of six, and expanding postal financial services like the creation of money orders.
All of that being said, it’s true that the main culprit behind USPS’ financial woes is the onerous pre-funding mandate. To speak in metaphor, repealing the pre-funding legislation is the heaping scoop of ice cream in the sundae; everything else amounts to the cherry on top.
Changing the Image of the United States Postal Service
For too long, USPS has been plagued with the image of an archaic organization on the verge of bankruptcy. However, now that Washington has taken the first step to get rid of the pre-funding burden, the American public will have a better opportunity to see the Postal Service for what it truly is.
The US Postal Service isn’t some failed government experiment that dug its own financial hole. Rather, USPS is a well-loved institution that America needs.
First of all, USPS delivers every single piece of mail to every single residential address in the country. All 157 million of them. Day in and day out, rain or snow, sleet or sunshine. Also, the Postal Service is responsible for a massive positive impact on job creation and the economy. In fact, through its own employment network and billions of dollars in postal contracts, USPS is at the heart of a $1.4 trillion United States mailing industry that employs more than 7.5 million people in high-quality jobs. The organization also paved the way for the success of eCommerce because of its affordable rates for package services, commitment to universal service, and reliable delivery timeframes. Even Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos acknowledges that USPS is responsible for Amazon’s early success.
USPS has done all of this and more without a single dime of taxpayers’ money. Now that the USPS Fairness Act is on its way to the Senate, we can rest easier knowing that the United States Postal Service is moving towards the light at the end of the tunnel, and will continue servicing the American people for years to come.