The draft of the Democratic platform calls for maintaining a public postal service, restoring previous service levels and eliminating “the unsustainable” $5.5 billion a year obligation to pre-pay the healthcare costs of future retirees and even offering new financial services https://demconvention.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/2016-DEMOCRATIC-PARTY-PLATFORM-DRAFT-7.1.16.pdf.
The convention takes place later this month in Philadelphia.
This platform plank may have come about as a result of pressure from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a longtime advocate of the public who is staying in the Presidential race to influence policy positions. Sanders has still has not endorsed the presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton though at deadline this is reportedly causing friction within the party, according to the Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bernie-sanders-house-dems_us_577d2625e4b041646411587d.
The prefunding requirement was slipped into the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006. While this law did reform the USPS in many ways such as establishing a regular predictable postal rate increase schedule it so far has contributed massively to the agency’s deficits seemingly perpetual financial deficits. Some have alleged its purpose was to destroy the USPS.
What’s more, this mandate has essentially given the USPS carte blanche to close postal facilities and reduce service levels. These have been going on for at least the past five years and have only been slowed down, thanks in part to pressure from a handful of Senators and others.
Will this platform item make the final cut intact and be incorporated into the Party’s overall position?
Let’s hope so but there are many forces out there that would like to keep things the way they are.
Take for example the banking and financial services industries. Even though a postal bank would aim at low-income customers traditionally shunned by banks they still aren’t likely to tolerate any competition from anybody.
Suppose other people think they might get better financial services via the USPS?
On a more basic level, the Democrats say also they favor maintaining six-day-a-week door-to-door mail delivery and a fully staffed Postal Regulatory Commission and USPS Board of Governors. The BOG has had only one member as nominations have been tied up in Congress.
Over the past few years, the postal service has repeatedly, if unsuccessfully, pushed for five-day mail delivery. The USPS has also experimented with dropping mail in centralized boxes in housing developments instead of individual addresses, hence reducing normal American delivery standards to third world levels.
Meantime, the same lame postal reform proposals keep coming up that only want to reduce the prefunding requirement.
In the latest one, Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD) have come up with a new bill that would allow Medicare to absorb some of these healthcare costs and effectively end the prefunding requirement, according to Government Executive http://www.govexec.com/management/2016/06/bipartisan-house-leaders-introduce-new-proposal-overhaul-postal-service/129122/.
This measure is all well and good but it misses the point: the original 2006 provision was put in the law with the not-so-subtle intention of destroying the public postal service. Only repealing it will ensure the survival of a public postal service.
In any case, it seems unlikely that any postal reform bill could pass this year. No one really knows what the political landscape will look