Preserving Postal Service and Mail Voting is EssentialRoundup
tags: Postal Service
Andrew W. Kahrl is associate professor of history and African American Studies at the University of Virginia.
Growing up in central Ohio in the 1980s, I loved traveling its back roads and visiting its small towns. Some of these places were, by then, only names on a map. But many others still had a downtown with small businesses, restaurants, and a post office. Today, most of those small, locally owned businesses and restaurants are gone. But the post offices remain.
The U.S. Postal Service provides a critical lifeline to rural America. In many small towns in America today, the post office is the center of community life. In addition to providing jobs to more than 600,000 Americans, the USPS sustains the livelihoods of many rural Americans who engage in e-commerce from their homes.
All of that could disappear in a matter of months, if Republicans and President Trump have their way. According to current projections, the USPS is set to run out of operating cash by September and be forced to end services. This is solely because of the deliberate actions of Republicans in Congress.
In 2006, President George W. Bush and Republicans in Congress passed a law requiring the USPS to prefund all pensions and health care costs for its workforce for the next 75 years, blowing a $72 billion hole in the postal service’s budget. No company in America adheres to such budgetary constraints, and no other government agency is forced to abide by this rule.
There was no reason for enacting the 2006 law other than to generate a budgetary crisis that would cripple the USPS and allow private services step in to fill the void. It’s because Republicans know that their rural voters value the postal service that they didn’t announce their intentions but instead planted this time bomb in the USPS’s budget that it knew would eventually explode. Indeed, Trump threatened to veto the entire coronavirus relief bill if it contained even a penny for the USPS.
Republicans have been waiting for this moment and are intent on using this current crisis to finally end postal service as we know it. If you are shocked that Republicans would do this, then you haven’t been paying attention.
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