Add the U.S. Postal Service to the entities being ravaged by the cornonavirus pandemic.
The majority of mail is sent by businesses, so with the economy stalled and millions of businesses being closed or their business drastically curtailed, the USPS has seen a big drop in volume.
Ironically, the pandemic has reminded Americans just how vital the Postal Service is as it delivers to their homes everything from letters and magazines to vegetable seeds and other items ordered online.
The USPS has long faced growing financial pressure as email and other technology reduced the number of letters and as private package services took a bigger share of deliveries. The Postal Service has run deficits of billions of dollars and faces billions more in unfunded employee benefits.
Many of the problems that have plagued the USPS are self-inflicted and need to be corrected.
That being said, the agency can’t be allowed to fail. The public rates the Postal Service as the federal agency it most respects for a reason. USPS delivers all mail to everyone, in every city and town and no matter how rural and remote.
The value of the Postal Service is especially apparent to rural America. Increasingly rural residents rely on it to deliver prescription drugs and other necessities.
Unfortunately there has not been the political will to help prop up the USPS during the pandemic and beyond.
A relatively modest $30 billion bailout was included in the House CARES Act legislation, but President Trump and GOP leaders balked. Eventually $10 billion was included for the USPS, but the president has threatened to block even that amount.
The willingness of the GOP to cripple the Postal Service comes as there is a realization that November’s elections will operate differently. Rather than everyone coming to polls in person, many more mail-in ballots and perhaps online voting will likely be needed.
Trump and Republicans know from history that when more people vote, their party almost always does worse. Without a robust postal system, fewer people will cast votes, particularly poorer Americans who may lack internet and other means to participate in voting.
Trump and the GOP argue, without any evidence, that absentee voting by mail is ripe for fraud. Their real fear is that more absentee voting via the USPS means they won’t be able to win a majority of voters.