Washington (AFP) – For abounding Americans, blockage the mailbox is a circadian ritual, a connected in a bound alteration apple that can crop annihilation from bells invitations to tax audits to new clothes.
But as with abounding accustomed things as the coronavirus crisis unfolds, the US Postal Account — already compromised by a abundance of debt — has a best ambiguous future.
“The Postal Account is captivation on for baby life,” congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat who chairs the House Oversight Committee, said aftermost week.
“Unless Congress and the White House accommodate allusive abatement in the abutting bang bill, the Postal Account could cease to exist.”
So how did an bureau that traces its origins aback to the Continental Congress in 1775, and counts Benjamin Franklin as the aboriginal postmaster general, acquisition itself actuality derided by President Donald Trump as a “delivery boy” for Amazon?
The acknowledgment is buried in a agitate of accomplished account decisions, customer accouterment against a agenda world, a crisis-induced bead in aggregate and acceptable ancient political infighting.
– Piles of debt –
From its ancestry in Philadelphia, through the 19th aeon Pony Express era, to its avant-garde iconic white vans and dejected uniforms, the postal account has been an American mainstay.
Among its acclaimed alumni are aviator Charles Lindbergh, amateur Rock Hudson, biographer William Faulkner and auberge magnate Conrad Hilton.
Zip codes for anniversary city, boondocks and apple were abandoned alien in the 1960s, but some accept become pop ability touchstones — best bodies apperceive that Beverly Hills, California is 90210.
Before the communicable beatific aggregate tumbling, added than 180 actor pieces of capital mail were candy and delivered anniversary day on average, according to USPS data.
“The mail is so important to American families,” says Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
So what happened?
Over the years, the account accumulated a actual abundance of debt — $160.9 billion, as of the end of 2019.
That is primarily due to a accurately allowable charge to pre-pay retirement allowances for its added than 600,000 workers, but added factors are in play.
The appearance of the agenda age has blunted the USPS’s mission — why accelerate a acknowledge you agenda back an e-card or argument bulletin will do?
For adolescent generations, affairs stamps is as adopted as application a blast to absolutely allocution to someone.
So in contempo years, it additional its amalgamation deliveries, demography on mega-clients such as Amazon. But it kept bleeding money.
And then, the coronavirus crisis brought accumulation mailings — catalogs, coupons and the like — to a cutting halt. Sales of postal articles and casework plummeted.
Postmaster Accepted Megan Brennan told assembly aftermost anniversary that the USPS expects to lose $13 billion in acquirement this budgetary year abandoned as a absolute aftereffect of the COVID-19 crisis.
“The abrupt bead in mail volumes, our best assisting acquirement stream, is abrupt and may never absolutely recover,” she said in a video briefing.
– Political football –
However, as the US government unveils massive bang bales to advice a host of industries, the postal account is not absolutely on Trump’s A-list.
Trump has again said the amount of shoring up the bureau should abatement to its deep-pocketed audience such as Amazon, not the government.
Under aid bales anesthetized by Congress so far, the postal account has been accustomed a $10 billion loan, awaiting Treasury approval.
But admiral and abounding Democrats say it’s not about enough.
Brennan asked assembly for up to $89 billion to acclimate the storm.
Lawmakers adduce the service’s commitment of medications to rural areas — and its accessible key role in November’s presidential acclamation acknowledgment to mail-in ballots — as acumen abundant to help.
“USPS workers accept risked their own bloom to ensure America keeps running” during the crisis, Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted, application the #SaveThePostOffice hashtag.
New Jersey administrator Bill Pascrell chimed in, calling the USPS an “engine for our elections” and the charge to save it “nonnegotiable.”
But Trump and abounding Republicans appetite to see the USPS privatized to a ample admeasurement — and are not agog to action a added cher lifeline.
“They lose money every time they bear a amalgamation for Amazon or these added internet companies,” Trump told reporters this month.
“And if they’d accession the prices by absolutely a lot, again you’d acquisition out that the column appointment could accomplish money or breach even. But they don’t do that. And I’m aggravating to amount out why.”
For Mark Dimondstein, the arch of the American Postal Workers Union, which represents some 200,000 members, the government needs to do more.
“We do our job. Congress and the administering charge to do theirs,” Dimondstein said.
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