The USPS has long been a third rail in American politics. Many have attempted to make the needed changes, and now it’s President Trump’s turn to try to reform the mail. The new budget from the Trump administration sets out some measures it estimates will save the USPS $47 billion over the next decade. Limiting Saturday delivery is one of the most controversial.
The real problem with the post office balance sheet is its mandate to prefund retiree healthcare benefits. With that rule in place, it may be hard to cut enough costs to make the service profitable.
Congress has been resistant to change in the past on the issue, but can President Trump negotiate a deal to get things moving?
Paul Ziobro writes in The Wall Street Journal:
The White House is also pushing for changes on how rates are set and for more efficient delivery options, like dropping off letters at “cluster boxes” for residents of a neighborhood or property development rather than going door to door. It estimates the overhauls could improve the USPS’s financial picture by $47 billion over the next decade.
“Details are pending a larger conversation with Congress,” said White House budget spokesman Coalter Baker. He said that since fiscal 2012, the postal service has drained its $15 billion line of credit with Treasury and defaulted on $34 billion in retiree benefit prepayments. “If nothing changes, the Postal Service will continue to default on payments at significant levels,” he said.
A USPS spokesman said the agency “appreciates that the president’s proposed 2018 budget recognizes the need to enact postal legislative and regulatory reform. Both are essential to enabling the Postal Service to meet its obligations in a financially sustainable manner.”
Most of the White House’s changes in the budget document fit with postal-overhaul proposals that passed the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee with bipartisan support. The legislation also would change how the agency calculates pension costs and liabilities and would automatically enroll USPS retirees in Medicare programs.
A Senate postal overhaul bill has yet to be introduced.
The option to reduce delivery days, however, could set up a showdown in Congress.
Congress has swatted away several attempts to curb six-day a week delivery. The USPS, in an attempt to save $2 billion annually, in 2013 tried to cut mail delivery to five days a week while continuing to deliver packages on Saturdays. The proposal met stiff opposition from postal unions and congressional members and was dropped.
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