The U.S. Postal Service, still reeling from Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s sabotage to help the Trump campaign; the spread of COVID-19; and the huge increase in mail because of the pandemic, was able to deliver just 71% of first class mail on time by the end of last year, as opposed to 92% in January 2020. On-time delivery of non-first class mail dropped to 38% last month, from 79% the year before. But DeJoy isn’t done yet and is about to unveil his vision for the agency, which includes even deeper service cuts, more expensive postage and services, and lower delivery commitments. That means he is still intent on destroying the institution on behalf of the corporate delivery entities in which he has investments—the very ones he’s been entering the USPS into service agreements with. Yes, he needs to be ousted and soon, before he can do any more damage.
That and other things are on the agenda in Congress and, hopefully, the White House. Democratic lawmakers are urging President Biden to fill all the vacancies on the Postal Service Board of Governors and have them oust DeJoy. That would be the fastest and most efficient way to Trump-proof the agency, since the existing board members are all cronies of Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump. Biden appears to have that on his agenda, the White House said in a statement to NBC’s Geoff Bennett, with the president preparing to “nominat[e] officials who reflect his commitment to the workers of the US Postal Service—who deliver on the post office’s vital universal service obligation.” His timeline, however, wasn’t mentioned. The White house points out that only the board of governors can boot DeJoy, but goes on to say that there are “currently three vacancies on the nine member board, with a fourth who is serving a hold-over year. […] As these are Senate confirmed positions, we will work closely with the Senate to move these nominations forward.”
There are two Democrats on the board now. One of them is Ron Bloom, whose term expired in December but who can serve for another year. Lee Moak is the other Democrat, though he was appointed by Trump and denied that DeJoy was acting politically in his sabotage efforts. With three more appointments including the chairman—a seat held by a member of the president’s party—Moak can be pressured into supporting Biden and boot DeJoy. There’s an argument that DeJoy could be impeached, but this would be a much more efficient and sure way of ousting him, which needs to happen sooner rather than later.
Congress can, of course, bring other changes. They’ve already introduced legislation to help restore the USPS’s finances by rescinding the law that requires the agency to pre-fund 75 years’ worth of retiree benefits. The agency is billions in debt because of that obligation, a debt which has given DeJoy and the Republican board more leverage for their “reforms.” That’s got support even from a conservative think tank. “Even if you had postal reform that only dealt with [pre-funding], it would take a really divisive issue off the table,” Kevin Kosar, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, told The Washington Post. “It’s an elegant solution that appeals to the left and the right because no stakeholder has to suffer.”
Another solution that Democrats have been pushing for years is to expand the services the USPS offers to include postal banking. Last fall, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, and Vermont’s Independent Bernie Sanders reintroduced the Postal Banking Act. It’s not yet been reintroduced in this Congress, but likely will be. Postal banking would do two huge things: help the Postal Service with much-needed revenue, and help the more than 7 million unbanked Americans with options for checking and savings accounts, bill payments, small loans, and low-fee ATMs. It would save consumers from having to resort to payday lenders and check-cashing businesses. Back in 2014, the USPS inspector general estimated it could generate as much as $9 billion in revenue every year for the agency. If that was implemented, and the benefits pre-funding requirement was rescinded, the USPS would be on sound financial footing and could be restored to the institution that the nation has revered for centuries.