Sad. That is the only word to describe the false and deceptive commentary by Congressman Antonio Delgado (August 23, 2020) regarding the U.S. Postal Service and the purported effort by the Trump Administration to thwart our mail system for political advantage.
Democrats across the nation have their talking points and most are dutifully repeated by the media. They contend that Republicans and President Trump are deliberately undermining the postal service to secure some electoral advantage.
The facts tell us a different story.
The U.S. Postal Service is in trouble, but it has nothing to do with the 2020 election and Donald Trump. Since 2007, the Postal Service has lost approximately $75 billion, largely because of the internet. Almost 40% of first-class mail volume has gone away because people are relying upon the internet to conduct financial transactions, such as paying the monthly bills. Mr. Delgado is silent on this fact.
A 2006 law required the Postal Service to set aside money to pay for promised retiree health obligations, something which is financially prudent and consistent with modern accounting standards. The alternative would require future taxpayers to pony up the money to pay for obligations incurred today. Such an approach is fiscally irresponsible, yet Delgado and Democrats in Congress blithely ignore this fact too.
Then there is the fake alarm over removal of mailboxes from our communities. Again, this is consistent with the reality that fewer people are utilizing first class mail, needing fewer on-street collection boxes. Democrats and Delgado fail to acknowledge that during the Obama Administration over 13,000 mailboxes were removed for this same reason but not a peep of objection was heard from Nancy Pelosi or anyone else in Congress or the media.
Then there is the argument that the mail has been slowed and that necessary medications aren’t being received by veterans and seniors. I checked with a busy mail house business in Albany to inquire whether the mails have slowed. “Absolutely not”, I was told. The business owner informed me that the mails are proceeding normally without any delay. Local veterans’ offices told me they’ve had no complaints from veterans about delays in receiving prescriptions either.
So, what is going on? The answer is politics. Democrats see an opportunity to create fear and consternation among the public and the media dutifully reports these falsehoods as gospel. The public is owed the facts about the financial situation with the Postal Service. The Postal Service is an important and critical public service, but it too must respond to market forces and technological change if it is to remain viable in the future.
Responsible public officials should present these facts and recognize the competitive forces affecting the Postal Service brought on by the internet. Donald Trump may be many things, but last time I looked he had nothing to do with internet and the significant declines in mail volume fostered by this innovation.
John J. Faso represented New York’s 19th Congressional District from 2017-2019 and is a former Republican leader of the state Assembly.