As the 2020 election looms ever nearer, Democratic candidate Joe Biden has thrown his support behind the US Postal Service. During Trump’s presidency, USPS has faced more scrutiny than it has throughout its entire history. These days, nearly every American is privy to the Postal Service’s financial problems, and the issue of how to save USPS has lawmakers harshly divided on either side of the aisle. Generally speaking, Democrats want to provide the organization with a much-needed cash infusion, while right-leaning Republicans hope to privatize it. If elected President, Biden has promised to save USPS by working with Congress to boost funding and ensure the organization’s commitment to universal service. More importantly, he has promised to put an end to the longstanding pre-funding mandate that Congress enacted in 2006—which is the real reason why USPS is in such a terrible financial predicament in the first place.
Joe Biden’s Stance to Save USPS is the Opposite of President Trump’s
As is the case with many issues, Biden’s stance on the Postal Service is the exact opposite of President Trump’s. The Democratic presidential nominee condemned the way that President Trump handled postal issues throughout his time in office, and brought up several instances how Trump “attacked” USPS. For example, Biden cited how Trump deliberately blocked emergency appropriations for USPS that would have made up for revenue it lost from the Coronavirus pandemic. Instead of approving a direct cash infusion, the White House only approved a $10 billion treasury loan for USPS as part of the CARES Act. In other words, Trump simply allocated more debt to an already debt-saddled organization.
Financial troubles notwithstanding, USPS is still America’s most beloved government institution, providing affordable rates and reliable delivery to every American, every single day. Even so, Trump has in fact gone out of his way to disparage the organization. On numerous occasions, he has referred to USPS as “Amazon’s delivery boy,” and has even toyed with the idea of privatizing the Postal Service to raise rates when, according to Biden, the issue of privatizing USPS should never have been considered.
While Trump has seemingly made it his mission to rally against USPS, Biden vowed to “honor and defend” the Postal Service’s universal service obligation of providing affordable rates and reliable service to every single residential address in the country. He also vowed to supply the Postal Service with “emergency relief so it has the resources to continue serving the American people.”
Ending the Pre-Funding Mandate is the Best Way to Place USPS Back on the Path to Financial Stability
Politics aside, Biden is undoubtedly correct about one thing: eliminating the onerous pre-funding mandate is the best strategy to save USPS. For context, this mandate that Congress enacted in 2006—entitled the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act—requires USPS to pre-fund future employee’s retirement and health benefits up to 75 years in the future. Over time, these payments accounted for tens of billions of dollars a year, and these expenses singlehandedly put the Postal Service in the red.
Interestingly, before Congress enacted this legislation in 2006, USPS was in fact profitable. USPS only began operating at a net loss ever since it made the first of these pre-funding payments in 2007…and financially speaking, it has failed to recover ever since. Therefore, the solution for placing USPS back on solid financial footing isn’t as simple as raising rates (and consequently doing irreparable harm to all the small businesses and individuals that rely on USPS every single day). It’s to get rid of the pre-funding mandate altogether. For better or worse, it all begins—and ends—with Congress.
If elected President, every single customer of USPS can only hope that Biden keeps his word and works to eliminate this pre-funding legislation. If we ever hope to save the Postal Service, it would certainly be the right place to begin.