Letter to the Editor: Privatize Trump, not the USPS

The recent attempts by the Trump administration to interfere with the 2020 election by falsely demonizing the use of mail-in ballots has led to a more aggressive attempt to dismantle the U.S. Postal Service.

Attempts to discredit the U.S. Postal Service have been ongoing as far back as the George W. Bush presidency when the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) was enacted by the 109th U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Bush on Dec. 20, 2006. It reorganized the Postal Rate Commission, compelled the Postal Service to pay in advance for the health and retirement benefits of all its employees for at least 50 years and stipulated that the price of postage could not increase faster than the rate of inflation. The Bush administration threatened to veto the legislation unless the provision regarding funding the employee benefits in advance — with the objective of using that money to reduce the federal deficit — was included.

The result of the legislation was that between 2007 and 2016, the Postal Service lost $62.4 billion; the inspector general of the Postal Service estimated that $54.8 billion of that was due to prefunding retiree benefits. According to Bloomberg, prefunding the health benefits of retirees “is a requirement that no other entity, private or public, has to make.”

These facts are cited in many places and have had a negative impact on one of the most valuable services that Americans use every day — a service that is one of the few government agencies explicitly authorized by the U.S. Constitution.

This artificially created funding crisis is being used to impugn the reputation of the U.S. Postal Service and hinder its ability to deliver mail on a timely basis at an affordable cost. Donald Trump’s thinly veiled attempt to stop mail-in voting and suppress voting rights has led to new and more prominent displays of animus toward the Postal Service.

All Americans should rise up in unison to challenge and reject such authoritarian attempts to compromise our great democracy. We need to demand that the U.S. Postal Service be appropriately funded and recognized as the valuable asset it is.

Privatization of any government entity has historically resulted in inefficiencies and less services for the people. Privatization allows a third party to profit from the efforts of the workers and inevitably results in fewer employees and dwindling wages. Further enriching business speculators at the expense of hardworking men and women will benefit the rich, while further destroying middle-class America.

Rep. John Kowalko
D-Newark