You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myAJC.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myAJC.com.

Opinion: Congressional politics hinders Postal Service


The U.S. Postal Service delivers to 155 million homes and businesses from coast to coast, six and increasingly seven days a week. It is based in the U.S. Constitution, is consistently rated the public’s most-trusted federal agency, and delivers 47 percent of the world’s mail. 

It’s also the centerpiece of the $1.3 trillion national mailing industry, which employs 7 million Americans in the private sector, including 229,191 Georgians. 

Yet, there is a surprising amount of public misunderstanding about this American treasure. Given USPS’ importance to residents and businesses in Atlanta and throughout the large and diverse state of Georgia, with your metropolitan centers, rural areas and small towns, I’d like to take this opportunity to offer some facts. 

For starters, the Postal Service generally operates in the black. USPS revenue exceeded operating expenses by $610 million in Fiscal Year 2016, for example, bringing its total operating profit the past three years to $3.7 billion. Operating profit for Fiscal Year 2017’s first quarter alone was $522 million. 

This is all earned revenue, from selling stamps and other products and services; by law USPS doesn’t get a dime of taxpayer money. 

As the economy gradually improves from the worst recession in 80 years, letter revenue is stabilizing. And as the Internet drives online shopping , package revenue is rising sharply (up 16 percent in 2016), auguring well for the future. 

There is red ink, but it stems from congressional politics. In 2006, a lame-duck Congress mandated that the Postal Service pre-fund future retiree health benefits. No other public agency or private company has to do this even one year in advance; USPS must pre-fund these benefits decades into the future. That $5.8 billion annual charge not only accounts for the “red ink,” it disguises the actual profits postal operations have been generating for years. 

This political mandate has created an artificial financial crisis at USPS that has led to the closing of postal processing facilities and the reduction of hours in some post offices, the slowing of mail and resulting frustration among businesses and residents. 

Addressing this elephant in the room — pre-funding — is imperative given the Postal Service’s role in so many facets of American life. 

In many places, including more than a few in Georgia, the post office is the center of civic life. It’s also the nation’s largest civilian employer of military veterans. Nearly one-quarter of letter carriers are wearing their second uniform. 

USPS and letter carriers play a key role in communities throughout the country. Every May, letter carriers conduct the largest single-day food drive to help replenish food banks, pantries and shelters from coast to coast. The timing is critical, because pantries are running out of food from their winter-holiday donations, and summer looms, a period when most school lunch programs don’t function. 

This year’s effort took place May 13 and marked the 25th annual food drive. We hope to do as well as last year’s, when generous Georgians contributed to a record 80.1 million pounds of food collected and donated to feed the hungry. 

Every day as they deliver mail on their routes, letter carriers help save the elderly or other residents who have fallen or experienced medical problems, put out fires, locate missing children, rescue people from burning cars after accidents or help stop crimes in progress. In fact, last year’s National Hero of the Year was a letter carrier from Snellville, who risked injury by fighting off an aggressive pit bull that had a little girl’s head in its jaws and was dragging her away. 

These are just some of the reasons why the Postal Service enjoys enthusiastic support from the public and from lawmakers across the political spectrum. Quality postal service has not been – and should not be – a partisan issue. 

The Postal Service, postal unions, key lawmakers and industry groups have coalesced around core legislative proposals that would address pre-funding while preserving and strengthening the invaluable postal networks. 

If Georgia’s elected representatives in Washington act on such targeted reform legislation, the Postal Service can continue to provide folks and businesses in the Peach State and across the country with the industrial world’s most affordable delivery services.

Fredric Rolando is president of the National Association of Letter Carriers.

[Summary]


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Crisp: There’s a reason why Colin Kaepernick doesn’t have a job
Crisp: There’s a reason why Colin Kaepernick doesn’t have a job

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was in the news last week, in a story that gives me a nagging, uneasy feeling about the health of our republic. Kaepernick is the professional football player who experienced considerable notoriety last season by declining to stand during the pregame rendition of the national anthem. He was protesting...
Opinion: Preventing another property-tax meltdown

A burgeoning property-tax revolt in Fulton County ended with the county’s quick surrender. That doesn’t mean the issue is over, for Georgia’s largest county or the state as a whole. Fulton homeowners were outraged in May when new assessments started showing up in their mailboxes. Half of homeowners saw increases of at least 20 percent...
Krauthammer: What the parents of Charlie Gard should do for their baby
Krauthammer: What the parents of Charlie Gard should do for their baby

One cannot imagine a more wrenching moral dilemma than the case of little Charlie Gard. He is a beautiful 11-month-old boy with an incurable genetic disease. It depletes his cells’ energy-producing structures — the mitochondria — thereby progressively ravaging his organs. He cannot hear, he cannot see, he can barely open his eyes...
Opinion: Mainstream media and the real crimes of Russiagate

For a year, the big question of Russiagate has boiled down to this: Did Donald Trump’s campaign collude with the Russians in hacking the DNC? And until last week, the answer was “no.” As ex-CIA director Mike Morell said in March, “On the question of the Trump campaign conspiring with the Russians … there is smoke, but...
Readers Write: July 21

Krauthammer column full of hot air Columnist Charles Krauthammer believes a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and other members of the Trump campaign and a couple of Russian officials was “collusion” (“Bungled collusion by Trump Jr. is still collusion,” Opinion, July 15). Collusion is the “secret agreement or cooperation...
More Stories