The Jan. 27 editorial “Retreat on postal reform” deployed such terms as “desperate,” “grim” and “moribund.” And it sounded downright angry in accusing lawmakers who reject proposals to slash postal services of capitulation. In fact, there is a growing recognition that with postal finances on the upswing, degrading the network would be counterintuitive and counterproductive. The sharp decline in letter revenue in the recession has abated, and online shopping has sent package revenue soaring. The Postal Service is in its fourth consecutive year of operating profits, each of the past two exceeding $1 billion. Fiscal 2016’s first two months have produced $772 million in operating profits.
Hence, the growing consensus among key lawmakers, the Postal Service, postal unions, businesses, mailers and industry groups to focus on practical steps: addressing pre-funding of future retiree health benefits, achieving savings in medical plans, better investing of pension funds, extending the exigent price increase and expanding business opportunities. It doesn’t include drastic reductions in services. Why degrade profitable networks when doing so would inconvenience postal customers and hurt the Postal Service’s bottom line?
The emerging consensus on postal reform addresses the challenges without breaking what works, so the Postal Service can continue providing the industrial world’s most affordable delivery network.
Timothy O’Malley, Washington
The writer is executive vice president of the National Association of Letter Carriers.
The editorial board underscored the urgent need for congressional action on postal reform. However, I have concerns with its characterization of our bill, the Improving Postal Operations, Service, and Transparency Act, and the “moribund” postal reform effort. The U.S. Postal Service, unions and a majority of mailers agree on provisions necessary for postal reform. A wide range of stakeholders, from Amazon to the National Association of Letter Carriers, testified that the provisions they agree on are contained in the act. However, these provisions in no way represent the complete reform package we introduced, which Congress can and must pass.
Successful restructuring must call for shared sacrifice among stakeholders and help the Postal Service remain relevant in the digital age. That means in addition to addressing the Postal Service’s financial condition, Congress must address a recent erosion in service. The editorial board missed that the Postal Service has made significant efforts to cut costs and right-size its network. These cuts have contributed to ongoing delivery problems and likely sacrificed revenue by driving frustrated customers away.
The Postal Service is a taxpayer-backed enterprise that provides universal service to urban and rural communities. It’s in everyone’s interest to revitalize this institution.
Tom Carper, Washington
The writer, from Delaware, is ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.