The USPS funding crisis is bigger than the election, experts warn
Its current resources are more than enough to enable it to deliver ballots and handle any election-related mail, according to Kevin Kosar, an executive at the R Street Institute think tank who spent over 10 years covering postal issues for the Congressional Research Service.
“Trump has confused a lot of people by conflating the post office’s situation with voting by mail. Trump said that somehow the post office needs $25 billion to handle all these ballots, and that’s not right,” Kosar said. “The people who need money for voting by mail are state and local election administrators whose budgets did not anticipate this level of demand.”
Kosar said he’s concerned that the $25 billion bailout currently being considered by Congress is problematic because it amounts to a blank check that won’t actually help the Postal Service.
“It’s not doing things to better control its costs, it’s not giving it additional pricing authority, which are things you need if you want to balance your books,” Kosar said. “It’s basically forbidding the Postal Service from continuing what it’s been doing for years — reducing the number of post offices, blue collection boxes, mail processing machines — in an effort to curb their growing costs. The bill basically says quit doing that, which is not good for the Postal Service.”
Kosar, who acknowledged the Postal Service has major problems, says Congress should instead try to enact actual changes that help the Postal Service succeed in the 21st century.
Congress currently requires the Postal Service to deliver paper mail six days a week even as demand falls, resists the closure of underused post offices and sorting facilities, generally prohibits USPS from raising prices beyond the rate of inflation and requires it to use a largely unionized workforce. All of which amount to high costs, according to Kosar.
“There are partnerships and there’s uncomfortable competition between them. They’re frenemies,” Kosar said.