Mailing It In: Post Office 'In Peril' Due to Covid-19

It is no breaking news that the U.S. Postal Service is struggling financially. The advent of e-mail combined with increased competition from entities like UPS, FedEx and Amazon has left the post office hemorrhaging money for decades, seemingly always on the brink of insolvency. Congress has applied the occasional band-aid to keep the postal service afloat, but any attempts at major reforms have been shut down or shelved.

Now, the Covid-19 pandemic is only exacerbating the longtime issues with the postal service. A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) warns the postal service's current business model is "not financially sustainable" and calls on Congress to take action to fix the agency. The report points out there has been a 44% decrease in First-Class Mail since 2006, while the USPS says mail volume this year is already down more than 30% from last year due to the pandemic.

Congress threw the USPS another lifeline in the recent stimulus package. "The bill gave the postal service a line of credit at the Treasury of $10 billion, if they need it," says Tom Schatz with Citizens Against Government Waste.

Schatz tells KTRH the solution to the postal service's problems goes beyond throwing more money at a faulty business model, and requires some creativity. "(Some) senators would like to allow the postal service to engage in new business, thinking that will help the postal service's finances," he says. "But (the USPS) is gonna need more people to do that."

If completely privatizing the postal service is a non-starter, then Congress needs to consider taking bolder action to reform the existing service, according to Schatz. "Congress has still not permitted delivery to be reduced, or closed post offices, which for some reason are still viewed as a gathering place," he says.

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