The April 18 editorial “Back to postal reform” attributed the U.S. Postal Service’s financial struggles to “a basic structural problem,” specifying technology that has reduced first-class mail, as well as “rising” costs of employee benefits. But the facts say otherwise. While it’s true that letter mail has declined, technology has led to a rise in package delivery stemming from e-commerce — and the overall result has been sufficient to produce operating profits in three of the past four years, averaging nearly $1 billion annually. That, mind you, without a dime of taxpayer money; by law, USPS relies on earned revenue for its operations. So if USPS takes in more money than it spends on normal business expenses (including health benefits and pensions), why is there red ink? The answer has little to do with technology or employees and everything to do with flawed public policy. In 2006, Congress mandated that USPS do something no other U.S. entity, public or private, is required to do: pre-fund future retiree health benefits decades into the future. That $5.8 billion annual charge accounts for almost all postal “losses.” Lawmakers need to address the illogical pre-funding policy so USPS can continue to provide Americans and their businesses with the industrial world’s most affordable delivery network.
Fredric Rolando, Washington
The writer is president of the
National Association of Letter Carriers.