Is the U.S. Post Office, enshrined in the Constitution, really about to go bust?
The Post Office is in financial dire straits, yes. It is also true that they’ve been under tremendous financial strain before and received help from Congress. So what’s happening now? Let’s go through a quick rundown.
Why is the Post Office in trouble?
The most recent reason the Post Office is in trouble because the coronavirus has sharply curtailed how much mail is being sent by businesses. Back in April, then-Postmaster General Megan Brennan informed Congress of the dire situation. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), the chairman of the subcommittee that oversees the Post Office said this after their briefing, “[T]he pandemic has completely changed the environment here. The mail volume drop is catastrophic.” The drop in mail volume was around 30%, and it is expected to get as high as 50% as the pandemic wears on.
The Post Office needs $25 billion in direct funding to keep going, which the Democrats included in the most recent coronavirus relief bill. (For context, the Post Office generates $1 trillion in a typical year.) However, knowing that Trump was not keen to sign the bill with that measure in there, the Senate Republicans have since refused to work with Democrats to get the next relief bill passed.
What is Trump’s issue with the Post Office? There are three main issues. First, Trump really hates Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post. Bezos has refused to kowtow to Trump and of course, Trump gets a ton of negative press in the Post. One of the ways Trump sees that he could punish Amazon is to get the Post Office to raise its prices, i.e. what it charges Amazon to send all those packages everywhere.
Second, an issue that is complicating the ability to fund the post office is that Republicans have long wanted to privatize the Post Office. (If you’re interested to learn more about this push-pull with privatization and why the Post Office has underlying financial issues, read THIS.)
And finally, and most pressingly, Trump thinks if he can stop ballots from being mailed to and from voters for the presidential election, he can eke out a win. The new Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, who is a Trump donor and has multiple conflicts of interests, assumed the role in May. Ever since, he has gotten rid of, or reassigned, top Post Office executives and the slowdowns across the country ramped up.
Can the Post Office be allowed to fail?
The Post Office has been part of this country since its founding. It is one of the very few government agencies that the U.S. Constitution mentions. In it, Congress was bestowed with the responsibility “To establish Post Offices and post Roads.” (Article 1, Section 8)
Fun fact: Benjamin Franklin was the first Postmaster General!
But it is that very clause in the Constitution that legal scholars use to argue both for and against the Post Office. Supporters say the clause means that the existence of the Post Office is enshrined in the Constitution and it cannot be abolished. Opponents point out that the language suggests that Congress can establish the Post Office, but it isn’t required to. So, this is a question that has no clear answer.
How you can help
What IS clear, however, is that if we want to save the Post Office, we must take action. Here are a couple of things we can do:
1) Buy stamps.
The majority of the revenue that the Post Office receives is from first class mail. So, buy some stamps. Send some letters, or ramp up your involvement with a postcarding or letterwriting campaign! Here’s the link to buy stamps: USPS Store
2) Contact your Senators and Rep in Congress.
Tell your representatives in Congress that you want them to support helping the Post Office through this rough patch. (Find their contact info HERE.) Furthermore, ask them to strongly advocate for direct funding in the next coronavirus relief bill. Here’s a basic script you can use, which I’ve adapted from the Americans of Conscience Checklist:
Hello. I’m from [ZIP] and I’m calling to ask you to support emergency funding for the U.S. Postal Service to ensure delivery of crucial supplies and mailed election ballots. Can I count on you to support including direct funding in the next coronavirus relief bill? Thank you.
I strongly encourage you to insert a reason or two to make your request stronger and more impactful. They could include the following:
- let’s keep the nearly 500,000 postal workers employed (including a significant number of veterans)
- let’s make sure rural areas continue to have access to mail
- we want to ensure that the roughly 1 million lifesaving medications that are shipped every year get to the intended recipients (source)
- we want to make sure all of our military personnel both especially overseas have continued service (as private services such as UPS and FedEx cannot deliver for security reasons)
- it would be irresponsible to let the Post Office fail as it would irrevocably disrupt both the Census and the November elections
- you believe that everyone, no matter where they live, should get the same access to a valuable line of communication
Alternatively, if you’re used to using Resistbot to send emails to your representatives, you can text USPS to 50409. For those of you who haven’t used this service before, once you text them, they will send you a series of questions so they can fill out the required fields on your representatives’ websites in order to send them this email:
Thank you for taking action!
I hope you will consider sharing this post to raise awareness for the importance of saving the Post Office. If you like content like this, I hope you will:
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I used Reistbot to contact my MoCs & Senators yesterday & encouraged my family to do the same. I’ve already purchased an extra roll of stamps. Will print the USPS logo & post it in my window with a message of support as well.
That’s fantastic! Thank you for taking action. I’m sure your mail carrier will appreciate the message.
The post office is really a dated service, the internet has replaced them and is quicker less expensive and safer. We can’t keep the Pony Express riding or the mule plow busy or candles to light our homes either.
The internet can deliver medical prescriptions now? That’s amazing! Do you just reach into your phone and pull them out? Is there an app for that? (note: sarcasm)
If anyone is interested in printing the support posters, you only need to click on each image to be taken to a link where you can save the image & print it yourself. 🙂
Hi Lisa. I think you might find that a lot of people are unwilling to click on unexplained links, me among them. I encourage you to let people know what the links are for when you post them.
Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
The United States Postal Service is one of those things we use every single day, but we rarely give it much thought, taking for granted that we will receive our daily mail and be able to send letters, cards and packages for a (mostly) reasonable price. Many of us receive life-saving medications by mail, we order necessities or even food, we receive our bills by mail. But today, the fool on the hill is threatening to allow the USPS to go broke, in part because he fears what will happen in November if we can all cast our vote by mail. Our friend TokyoSand has written an excellent post summarizing the situation and with a few suggestions for what we can do to help … please read!
As always, thank you for sharing this important information, Jill.
It IS so very important, I had to share! As always, you provided some valuable information and links to resources. I buy my insulin from Canada and if not for the USPS, I would have been long since dead, so this is something very important.
My post is being shared a lot, and I’m seeing that it often is a deeply personal issue for folks. I’m glad you’re here.
Reblogged this on Musings on Life & Experience and commented:
It’s vital the U.S. Postal Service is not allowed to fail.
Thank you for sharing this information with your readers, Patricia!
You’re most welcome. I hope the Post Office survives. I wish the money wasted on that ridiculous wall had been used for something more useful like hospital supplies and/or to keep the Post Office functioning. If Trump allows the Post Office to be harmed, his popularity will probably take another real beating. I wonder if he realizes that. 🙁 — Suzanne
I don’t think that man realizes anything on his own. I think he is spoon fed all of his information.
Please correct your info to add credibility. The Post Office employment data you are using is about a decade old. They now employ about 500,000 people. Using the old number diminishes the credibility of the piece.
Source – https://about.usps.com/who-we-are/postal-history/employees-since-1926.pdf
You are right. I double check my figures but was relying on recently published articles. I just looked at a government data source, and will adjust the number.
How I Help : Stamps are regularly purchased, snail mail of cards and letters are regularly sent (continuously over 60+ years), although bills are received and paid online I continue to receive paper ones via the USPS along with junk mail. Senators and Congressmen have been contacted. The unthinkable has become thinkable and this must not progress as Trump and some of the GOP would have it. We cannot stand idly by and allow the USPS to shutter their doors or be privatized. Thank-you!
Thank you for writing, Ellen. I’m so glad to see all the action you’ve taken! Thank you.
America can and will not run without mail period.
The post office needs to stay open. It serves a purpose. Without the USPS small business and many more will Crumble and fail. So many people will be without jobs. People will start losing everything they have worked so hard for!! Please dont allow this to happen. We need the USPS TO REMAIN OPEN!!
Couldn’t agree more.
While I love resistbot and the phone campaigns, I have taken the more visual approach and have taken to using my purchased stamps to mail letters (multiple) to my reoresentatives. It gives me more reason to purchase more stamps and utilizes the service we all want to protect.
I love that approach. I’m involved with a couple of postcarding groups that do that, too. 👍🏼
It should be noted that the Postal Service would have all the funds they need if Congress would remove the onerous burden of having to prefund healthcare benefits, something no other public or private entity has to do. Congress imposed this requirement on the Postal Service several years ago. If they would remove that burden and refund the excess funds that have already been paid, the Postal Service would be several billions in the black.
That is an important point, and one not many people realize. It was one of those attempts by the Republicans to hobble the post office to make it more conducive to argue for privatization.
I would love to see someone start a protest movement to send snail mail to the White House that says ‘MORE COVID-19 TESTING NOW!’ or something similar. It would flood the White House mail processing center (which isn’t actually at the White House) and each piece would still need to be processed (opened since it would be in a sealed envelope) to determine if it needs attention. If people who have income send 10, 20, 30 or more, think of the volume of mail it would create. Those with less income could send just one.
Don’t just buy a roll of stamps. Use them to send postcards to swing states Dem voters to encourage them to turn out and vote, with Postcards to Swing States (https://postcardstoswingstates.com/) or letters to same through Vote Forward (https://votefwd.org/). Time is running out: start writing now!
Thank you, Wendy. I’m a big fan of Postcards to Swing States (and have been writing with them since they were Postcards to Wisconsin!)