drug regulator approves the Moderna vaccine. Americans consistently rate it their favorite federal agency, and with a work force of more than half a million scattered across the country, it employs more people than any government entity outside the military. In many ways, the position is a natural one for Democrats. So while the Post Office is privileged under U.S. law (it has a monopoly on the delivery of first-class mail, for example), it's not technically run by the government nor is it funded by taxpayers. And so you start in kind of the early years of the new Millennium, and the trend picks up to see a decline in overall mail volume. So starting in the early to mid 2000s, there is a relatively quick succession of major changes in the kind of environment for the Postal Service, some of which are foreseen and some of which are not, that begin to dramatically erode its finances. Here’s how. selected a North Carolina businessman and major Republican donor to be the next postmaster general, a new report from the Government Accountability Office. The postage rate was based on the number of sheets in the letter and the distance it would travel. Today, America’s most beloved government agency has never been more vital, and yet, as thousands of companies receive federal bailouts, the United States Postal Service finds itself at the back of the line. And if the Postal Service doesn’t take this money, how much longer can it operate as it currently does? Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape HuffPost's next chapter. What do you think that the rationale is? Why are we so afraid of a word that is inherently friendly? Except that the post office is taxpayer-funded: Democrats and U.S. And this, as much as anything else, is what has informed Trump’s view of the Postal Service. It just won’t work, and it would probably backfire on the Postal Service, because Amazon could easily find a way to deliver that package cheaper. Mail carriers at a Postal Service sorting facility in El Paso last month. And those losses have not, at least to this point, been able to be offset. By Friday, a hashtag, #SaveThePostOffice, was trending nationally on Twitter. It has more than 600,000 employees and more than $70 billion in annual revenues. And the private companies, the Walmarts and the Amazons, and of course, UPS and FedEx, they bring their parcels to us to deliver what we call the last mile. I mean, the White House is saying, take this loan. And if it’s a long ways away from town out in rural America, it’s not profitable for them to go. The agency’s problems, though, predate the coronavirus crisis as a result of a widespread shift to digital messaging and a federal mandate that the USPS pre-fund its retirement benefits. That’s it for “The Daily.” I’m Michael Barbaro. Or, I was carrying a paint stick some days ringing the doorbell, to prevent —. Well, you take a look at the post office —. I would depart from their porch, and they would step out and call my name and say, “Derek, we appreciate you.” And that means a lot. Derek, I want to start by asking you if you could tell me about your first ever memory of the Postal Service. That changed in 1971, when Congress passed the Postal Reorganization Act , turning it into an independent, self-sustaining agency. I mean, how is delivering the mail different now? That was pretty much what I knew growing up, yes. I mean, take the case of Dan Sullivan, who is a Republican senator from the state of Alaska, very rural state, heavily reliant on the Postal Service, who’s up for re-election this fall. Democrats and union leaders have argued those changes would put the agency on a road to privatization. Before 1971, it was a department of government, supported by taxes. the postal service is a government corporation. So since the pandemic started, I have to imagine there have been significant changes to your routine, right? He’s of the opinion that Amazon is basically ripping off the Postal Service. Sponsored by the Chinese government, Chinese Government Scholarship – University Program is a full scholarship that provides funding for international students studying full-time in China. In the House, they are preparing to introduce a massive relief bill that would give the agency much of what it has asked for, including $25 billion in direct funding plus additional debt relief measures. The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office later ruled that ... the president can immediately freeze the funding â¦ And that if they’re going to be giving them a bunch of money, if they’re going to be asking taxpayers that don’t normally fund the Postal Service to be chipping in billions of dollars, they want to see some changes from it, maybe changes that look like what the White House wants along the way. “That was a far cry from the 30 percent that U.S.P.S. So it may seem like you’re getting more packages than ever and that the Postal Service — you know, your mailman is the one person that keeps coming to your building and your door, and there’s kind of a greater awareness about it. Allow for 50% prefunded pensions and watch the post office grow. About £160m of the money will be used to protect village community branches, Business Secretary Greg Clark said. Conservatives and centrists are calling on the USPS to slash employees benefits and restrict mail delivery. The Postal Service, On The Verge Of Collapse, Is Begging For Funding. So I have to imagine that this pretty beloved institution is at the front of the line for any kind of bailout at a moment when Congress is handing out money to a lot of businesses across the country. And the other thing to keep in mind that the president’s comments often obscure is that these contracts with companies like Amazon, while they are secretive, or we, the public, haven’t seen them, they are certified to be profitable. And package volume is up overall, which has helped offset some losses. The Postal Service receives NO tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations. Which is a wholesale increase of four- or five-fold so that if a package today costs $8 to ship, it’s going to be $32 or higher. Traditionally, Republicans, particularly those that represent rural states or districts, places like Maine, or Alaska, or just congressional districts that are outside of big cities all over the country, have been big supporters of the Postal Service because their constituents are heavily reliant on it. “They need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump said in an interview with Fox Business’s Maria Bartiromo. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), who is on the oversight committee, painted a dire picture of the agency’s operations in a Thursday afternoon tweet. See you tomorrow. Hereâs what the Act says:âThe United States Postal Service shall be operated as a basic and fundamental service provided to the people by the Government of the United Statesâ. In a recent email blast, Tom Perez, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said Republicans were trying “to dismantle” the Postal Service, and with it, the jobs of hundreds of thousands of postal employees, as well as the connections between rural, poor and tribal areas to the economy. Postal Service says it will be insolvent next month, and wants to lay off 120,000 people. In a place like where you grew up, that is the Postal Service — one man. You can now glimpse the future with nothing more than a modem, a phone line, and a few dollars a month. That paper happens to be owned by Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon. I feel like that’s something a lot of people don’t quite understand. The post office performs many different mail functions including receiving it, handling it and delivering it. It’s self-sustainable. Postal Workers Are Stressed And On The Front Lines Of The Coronavirus Pandemic. There’s no doubt about that. So where does this all leave the post office, Nick? There is, though, a second thing going on here, and this is kind of — this other interest is maybe better represented by Steve Mnuchin, who is the treasury secretary. We are defenders of all of these programs, because you can’t be treated differently just because you’re an American and you live in a village without a road. The sudden drop in mail volumes, our most profitable revenue stream, is steep and may never fully recover.”. The Post Office Department was created in 1792 and became a Cabinet department in 1872. And so he’s basically put down a line in the sand and said, “Unless the Postal Service agrees to jack up prices 400 or even 500 percent on Amazon packages — that’s quite a lot of money — I’m not going to give them a cent. The future of the mail may hang in the balance. This item is available in full to subscribers. Paul Ratje/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images. Few details of the talks have become public, but a task force led by Mr. Mnuchin in 2018 proposed that the Postal Service raise its rates, begin diverting more work to non-unionized outside contractors, and essentially lease space in the nation’s mailboxes to private delivery services. Economics I asked my dad and he said that would make us Communist and we can't have that =/ not sure if that's the answer I'm looking for. I heard that’s really neat. Surveillance. Revenues are supposed to cover the postal service's costs, but mail volume is plunging, and the USPS has been losing billions of dollars a year for more than a decade. Even with package deliveries to homebound Americans up sharply, total mail volume is down by roughly a third. Democrats, for their part, have positioned themselves as protectors of the agency, joined by large retailers like Amazon and CVS that rely on the Postal Service to deliver millions of packages a year at low rates. “The USPS and the mailing industry it supports ($1.6 trillion in sales and 7.3 million private sector workers) is every bit as important as the aviation industry,” National Association of Letter Carriers President Frederic Rolando said in a late March statement. It would be doing fine today had the government not allow some of the biggest revenue sources (FedEx for overnight and UPS for Amazon) be taken away from it. A post office is a government owned public building. What’s the deal?” He said, “How does that happen?”, And I said, “Well, we carry the last mile for some of the companies to get it out there.”. My colleague, Nick Fandos, on why that is. So is NASA. I’m not going to bail him out, I won’t give them a loan, I’m not going to do anything for them because they’re being such suckers.”. But the issue has not always broken down neatly along partisan lines. And without a major infusion either in the form of bailout from Congress or a loan coming from the Treasury Department, it would struggle to meet its obligations and put even delivering the mail in jeopardy. I spoke with the Postmaster General again today. And then a few years into this trend, Congress makes another consequential decision. and say, look, if you don’t come and bail us out right now, if you can’t help us get a infusion of billions and billions of dollars, we could be out of cash by the fall. Counterintelligence. Nick, is it possible that that’s exactly what the Postal Service should be doing? The âPost Office,â or the United States Postal Service, is owned by the United States Federal Government. Post Office branches, along with the Royal Mail delivery service, were formerly part of the General Post Office and after 1969, the Post Office corporation. It is classified as an “independent establishment of the executive branch of the Government of the United States” and operates independently of government control, run by its own non-political directors. And we do the last mile for some of our competitors, because I am in rural America. At a time when the volume of packages, because of the pandemic, is increasing significantly at the Postal Service, this could be an area to really close some of the revenue gap. ... After Declaration of Independence, US Post Office Is Born. Derek, why do you think it is that the federal government is offering financial assistance to many private companies across the U.S. economy and not to the Postal Service? And encouraged countries to take whatever public health steps are necessary to avoid it. The $2 trillion stimulus package enacted by the federal government to ease economic fallout from the virus included a $10 billion loan to the USPS, though there was no direct funding. Here is … So it actually starts with The Washington Post, the newspaper that the president feels has covered him too critically, too unfairly. On Wednesday, Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin and the chairman of the committee overseeing the Postal Service, requested a more detailed account of its finances. Well, what I read and hear, it’s not good, that it’s crippled us to a degree. Amazon is going to have to pay much more money to the post office. My parents knew him. Alan Rappeport contributed reporting. The public can also rent post office boxes, obtain passport applications and purchase money orders there. But the story's more complex than that. I mean, I’m mindful of the fact that Amazon, for example, is the country’s most profitable business. And when you say last mile, what do you mean? So even though we think of those companies as doing their own delivery from wherever a package originates to a person’s home, you’re saying that in many cases, it’s the United States Postal Service, it’s you, who ends up literally taking it the last couple of miles to the destination. Government run and tax funded. Important conversations are happening now. Image: "ConLab" works with US government-funded iLaw to rewrite Thailand's constitution. President Donald Trump said Thursday he opposes funding for the U.S. But by the Postal Service’s own projections, it could run into serious cash flow problems as early as September, this fall. The W.H.O. And that will threaten service and threaten the very viability of this thing that Americans seem to be more cognizant of and more relying on than they have been in a really long time. — that other states might be like, “Oh wait, why can’t you just drive there?” Well, you guys all know why we can’t just drive there — because so many of our communities don’t even have roads. And how? Mr. Mnuchin has begun preliminary conversations with the Postal Service’s leaders about the terms of a loan of up to $10 billion that the Treasury Department is authorized to extend to the agency. Yeah. The scholarship covers tuition fee, accommodation fee, monthly stipends, and On a tele-town hall with constituents recently, Mr. Sullivan said he would defend the Postal Service against any potential cuts. We’re not interested in including them in this bill, and you better not put it in our way, because we don’t want to have a problem.”. When President Trump went off on a riff against the Postal Service and about how they were being ripped off by Amazon —. Like any non-profit, it must have enough income to cover expenses. I urge my colleagues to adopt. Well, Derek, we really appreciate you spending time with us, and wish you the best of luck on your routes and good health. I mean, the agency never really fully recovered or regained its footing. The Postal Service is supposed to make a $5.5 billion payment to â¦ The Post office’s history stretches back 250 years. So Mnuchin recognizes that the Postal Service is in a bad way, that it has a real financial need. “I recognize how important the Postal Service is to my state, and I’m not going to let anything happen to it that would jeopardize the ability of the mail to reach all of you.”. Congress created the USPS to replace the old Post Office Department in 1972, making it a permanent fixture of the federal government. The “Post Office,” or the United States Postal Service, is owned by the United States Federal Government. It was almost always self-supporting. And Amazon, as we know, is heavily reliant on the United States Postal Service to deliver many of its packages all across the country. “The Postal Service is a joke,” President Trump said recently. But in the middle of these high-stakes negotiations, the White House comes, and out of trillions of dollars of spending, points to the United States Postal Service and says, “Uh-uh, we’re not going to support a bailout. I deliver to that house, and I fell in love with it once I started. Basically bring these disparate colonies and communities together. The World Health Organization is warning that even before a second wave of infections may arrive in the fall, there could be a surge of infections in the coming weeks as measures to contain the virus are lifted in places like the U.S. We got a second peak, not necessarily a second wave. During the pandemic, who is believed to be much more sympathetic to the president’s views and Secretary Mnuchin’s views. And so what we’ve seen in the last few weeks is the Postal Service come to Congress, basically hat in hand. “The Postal Service is like Social Security — it’s beloved by everybody,” Mr. Trumka said in an interview. That changed in 1971, when Congress passed the Postal Reorganization Act , turning it into an independent, self-sustaining agency. The Post Office Department issued its first postage stamps on July 1, 1847. Today is National Voter Registration Day! The private companies would have to deliver them if the post office wasn’t there. The E.U. But the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the Postal Service’s problems. But I just hope that it can continue on. Further I would state that I think our aversion to the word socialist is archaic. Covert action. The U.S. Every American has some interaction with the USPS, but that doesn’t mean the current fracas is easy to understand. When I was growing up in rural Davie County — of course, then there wasn’t all the video games and computers and everything. The company is owned by UK Government Investments. It also defines the USPS as âan independent establishment of the executive branch â¦ I live in Advance. The advent of the kind of like, everyday worldwide web. And that’s what has contracted at an alarming rate. The Post Officeâs problems are business-wide, because its expenses keep exceeding revenues. From the New York Times, I’m Michael Barbaro. The Post Office needs $25 billion in direct funding to keep going, which the Democrats included in the most recent coronavirus relief bill. Post Office Ltd (Welsh: Swyddfa'r Post Cyf. The post office surviving — I hope that it survives at a uniformity that every American deserves. Though 90 percent of its income is derived from the sale of stamps, the post office is also the largest savings bank in the country, and the largest agency with a transfer of money. Postal Service has been a matter of both contention and confusion since the 1970 Postal Reorganization Act (PRA) put the Postal Service on a self-sustaining basis, exempting it from general budget and funding laws and denying the executive branch control over its finances. Postal business is transacted through some 47,000 post offices, contract stations, and branches in 42,000 U.S. communities. He stood silently behind Mr. Trump in the Oval Office when the president threatened to block emergency aid to the Postal Service late last month. | (Photo: Reuters/Ammar Awad) World Vision should have known that the Islamic group it funded and worked with in Sudan was dedicated to funding terrorism, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee said in a new report. And administration officials have made it clear that they will not sign off on any financial support — either in the form of a loan or direct funding — unless the Postal Service agrees to rate increases, labor concessions and other changes that would shrink the agency’s footprint, potentially saving money and benefiting private competitors like FedEx and UPS. It could probably stand to pay higher rates, and would that be better for the Postal Service? And then as I grew up seeing him, same guy all through my teen years. If this new perception of the Post Office is now mainstream, that it is a âsubsidized government serviceâ rather than a quasi-private entity expected to â¦ It was the White House that intervened in March, nixing a bipartisan plan to provide $13 billion to the Postal Service. Postal Service (USPS) had largely completed Post Office Structure Plan's (POStPlan) implementation prior to a 2014 POStPlan arbitration decision and expected millions in cost savings. The Postal Service, which employs 650,000 people, is asking for $75 billion in aid from the government, and, according to The New York Times, another $14 billion to pay off debt related to a retirement benefits program ― a whopping $89 billion total. The US postal service (despite quibbles by some) is a âquasi-governmental" organization. — and the post office is losing billions of dollars, and the taxpayers are paying for that money, because it delivers packages for Amazon at a very below cost, and that’s not fair —. Postal Service’s continuing problems, Ed O’Keefe calls the USPS “a quasi-government agency enshrined in the Constitution but required by law to act like a business.”. Yes. But its postal workers remain on the front lines of the crisis, handling prescription drug shipments, lab test materials and medical supplies that are crucial to efforts to contain the virus. By any definition of socialism that I understand, if it is paid for by the taxpayer, it is a socialist institution. In a Washington Post article on the U.S. The Post Office charges us for postage and …. Mail-in voting has also allowed the democratic process to survive in the era of social distancing. And so there is a possibility that the Postal Service could ultimately decide either to take the loan, or maybe financial conditions improve enough that they don’t need to take the loan, but they still make some of the kind of changes that the White House is asking for. It certainly happened in the pandemic of 1919 and the Spanish flu. This article has been updated with a statement from the Postal Service. described such a surge as a second peak. fyi: the price of stamps goes up not bc of inflation but bc congress says it does. “Simply throwing more of taxpayers’ hard-earned money at them won’t fix their problems,” Mr. Jordan said. a task force led by Mr. Mnuchin in 2018 proposed. Sounds like the post office is not thrilled about the conditions that would be attached to it. It was one of the original functions of Government, mentioned in the Constitution. Frances Benjamin Johnston Collection, via Library of Congress. The Postal Service is financing itself. And I’m carrying a lot more essential needs. Postal Service and election security grants in an effort to stymie mail-in voting for the upcoming presidential election. Attention subscribers. I got to know him. I work out of Mocksville. This happened during pandemics in the past. With the pandemic unfolding in the heat of an election and Mr. Trump largely defining his party’s position, Democrats increasingly believe the issue could give them a political edge. The Postal Service has been an engine of growth for the black middle class, and is one of the last strongholds of organized labor in the country, both critical constituencies for the modern Democratic Party. But as Washington begins to battle over the next round of coronavirus relief funding, the United States Postal Service, for many the most familiar face of the federal government, has landed improbably at the center of one of the most bitter political disputes over who should be rescued, and at what cost. And if instead of giving it a no-strings-attached bailout, the Treasury Department instead gets authority to give it a loan, then he, as treasury secretary, could essentially dictate terms, changes that the Postal Service would have to adopt if it wants to get this loan money from the Treasury Department. We cannot make assumptions that just because the disease is on the way down now that it’s going to keep going down and we’re going to get a number of months to get ready for a second wave. How could this be an opportunity for the White House? Previously, letters were taken to a Post Office, where the postmaster would note the postage in the upper right corner. On the other hand, there are Republicans in Congress that I think are sympathetic to that point of view, but feel like the Postal Service has been losing money for quite a long time, that its business model wasn’t working even before the pandemic. The United States Postal Service (USPS; also known as the Post Office, U.S. Mail, or Postal Service) is an independent agency of the executive branch of the United States federal government responsible for providing postal service in the United States, including its insular areas and associated states. We’re constitutionally bound to go to every house every day. These things directly replace a lot of the Postal Service’s bottom line. ELI5: If the US Post Office is funded by the government, why do they charge us to ship something from them? The Post Office on the other hand, is running in the hole by billions. It’s a very good question, and that’s very possible. As the carrier delivering packages to the last mile where it isn't profitable for other private companies to deliver, the post office is especially key in rural areas. The Postal Service is not funded by a regular ... wanted $25 billion for the post office. “At a time when America needs the Postal Service more than ever, the reason we are so needed is having a devastating effect on our business,” Brennan said in a statement. But there’s a couple of things to keep in mind. She could not have been more clear: The Postal Service will collapse without urgent intervention, and it will happen soon.We’ve pleaded with the White House to help. The rural carriers in a lot of areas, they are the picture of the Postal Service. Nick, tell me about the history of the U.S. Personal correspondence, billing, business solicitations, and things like that. “We have to fight for the post office,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi. 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