What progressives have won in the fight to save the US Postal Service

In 2016, the politics surrounding the U.S. Postal Service was conflicting and full. The venerable service found in almost every American city, town and village was in financial danger. For the past 10 years a congressional strategy jacket has been placed on USPS: a requirement that it fund its retirement healthcare plan in advance, something that is not heard in government agencies or non-government organizations.

Following the hints of his initial postmaster general, President Barack Obama repeatedly offered to save money by eliminating Saturday’s delivery, but the proposal provoked too much reaction and reform efforts in Congress stalled. The crisis was exacerbated by the dual systemic holdings of Senators Mitch McConnell and Barney Sanders. Obama has traditionally nominated three Democrats and two Republicans to the bipartisan USPS Board of Governors. Vermont Independent Sanders blocked two Republicans as they set out to privatize the postal service. Kentucky Republican McConnell, then the majority whip, retaliated by blocking the rest. One or two but led to stagnation All When Donald Trump took office in 2017, there were vacancies among the nine president-appointed seats on the board.

It’s hard to believe, but by 2020, postal politics has become more polarized. The Board of Governors – all of which Trump appointed – chose Trump donor Louis Dizzy as postmaster general. Djoy, a 62-year-old owner of a logistics company, took a hammer to USPS, which had its roots in 1775, and a postmaster named Benjamin Franklin. DJ’s hurdles slowed delivery ahead of the 2020 presidential election, sparking outrage among Democrats who feared it would disrupt the flow of mail-in ballots during the epidemic. (Many states have joined the pre-existing strong voting-house system so that citizens do not have to risk COVID-19 to exercise their most sacred constitutional right.) Meanwhile, the USPS balance sheet continues to go red.

In early 2021, DJOI released a 10-year reform plan, with details Thoughtfully Slow service to reduce costs. Congressional Democrats have condemned the move. Porter McConnell, who works for the Progressive Activist Group of Americans for Financial Reform through which he founded the Save the Post Office Coalition, told me the amount of DJ’s plan was “a lost strategy to cut USPS for health” and “the only plan he deserves.” His own retirement plan at the moment. ” (Coincidentally, DJ became postmaster general because he was promoted by Mike Duncan, chairman of the board of governors, and Duncan thanked a politician for whom he raised funds: Porter’s father, Mitch.)

Then, in February, the events unfolded, with the bipartisan pairing of Caroline Maloney and James Comer, a Democrat from New York, a Kentucky Republican, celebrated through House legislation to reform USPS and its financial stability. Support from DJO, progressive staff and everyone else. In March, the Senate, led by Michigan Democrat Gary Peters and Ohio Republican Rob Portman, followed suit. The bill is on its way to President Joe Biden’s desk. Even Porter’s father, a Senate Republican leader, voted in favor of the bill. The law finally and mercifully paves the way for the “pre-funding” of retirement health benefits, which represents an existential threat to the USPS.

Across the Biden Presidency, many progressives have claimed that Democrats use party lines, vote for a budget reconciliation, or pursue major reforms in a biased way, such as abolishing Philibuster. But in the fight for the USPS, the progressives are playing by Washington’s traditional rule: work across the corridor; Focus on ideas that everyone agrees on; Leave ideas that not everyone is on.

“It’s a skinny bill, but it’s not a compromise bill,” said Porter McConnell. “It simply came to our notice then. But there is nothing less than our sincere support. ” Mark Demundstein, president of the American Postal Workers’ Union, agreed that the lack of poison pills in the bill was important for his widespread support. “We had to keep the bill narrow, and I don’t mean ‘small’ when I say narrow,” recalls Diamondstein, whose union supported both Sanders’ presidential campaigns, “but narrow in the sense that issues can be resolved.”

To get to the “yes” all parties have to accept the basic facts. The parties agreed that Congress in 2006 when the postal service needed health care to fund pre-funded retirements, about $ 5.5 billion for 10-year annual payments, although no retirement health plans, public or private, were funded in this way. . The idea was to strengthen the retirement system before reducing USPS revenue from reducing the use of traditional mail. But USPS failed to pay and has $ 57 billion behind schedule. The 2022 Reform Bill eliminates the folly of pre-funding, erases past debt from books, and stabilizes USPS retirees’ healthcare by enrolling new retirees in Medicare.

Some conservatives see the reliance on Medicare for retired healthcare as a rearrangement of deck chairs in fiscal years. Titanic. The Heritage Foundation claims that the bill would speed up Medicare’s impending bankruptcy. (Congressional Budget Office concludes that the bill would reduce health care spending.) To keep Republicans from jumping on board, according to The The Washington Post“The GOP has voted in person to attend the House and Senate conferences to discuss the DJ law,” he said. In the end, the majority of Republicans in each chamber supported the bill.

Although all parties wanted to raise pre-funding, they were divided on other issues, particularly the level of service that the USPS should provide. Progressives want to return to abandoned high-service standards in 2012, including overnight delivery for first-class mail sent to local areas. (That value is now two days.) But conflicts with DeJoy’s 10-year plan for slower service to reduce faster service costs. For example, the standard delivery time for first-class mail was no more than three days, but now it is five.

How do negotiators get around that disagreement? An initial draft of the bill exempted USPS from subjecting its service standards to a regulatory process, giving DJs and future postmaster generals a free hand. But American Prospect Reportedly, the American Postal Workers’ Union said it could not support a bill with such a provision because the waiver provision was abandoned in May 2021. The result is that nothing in the bill immediately derails DJ’s 10-year plan, leaving the obligation to return to service quickly. But the bill maintains a surveillance system that allows DJ critics to fight another day.

Progressives can blow the deal on another issue, it affects the environment. But they did not stick to their wish list at the cost of progressing wisely. The issue involved the planned purchase of about 150,000 mail delivery trucks. Progressives, who understandably look at every line item for the effects of climate change, mostly wanted electric cars. But while they’ve pushed for green mail trucks, they haven’t made it a deal breaker, and DeJoy continues to push for cheaper gas-powered trucks.

And despite all the controversy surrounding the management of the 2020 election ballots, the bill does not touch on how the USPS will handle forward mail ballots, although reforms can still be resolved in the forthcoming budget progress. Biden has included $ 10 billion in his budget proposal for electoral infrastructure, some of which will be used to expand the use of mail voting and to ensure that ballots without mail are still distributed and counted.

The flexibility shown by the progressives reflects the sacred nature of the USPS. A 2020 Pew poll found that 91 percent of Americans favor the postal service more than any other government agency. Post offices are visible in every American community – urban, suburban, and rural – helping the USPS survive the whirlpool of cultural warfare. That popularity could be a springboard for compromising on other issues.

Diamondstein is optimistic about the future of the postal service. “Any time you have this kind of unity around the good of the people,” he said, “it could certainly carry over into other things.” He added that there was already bipartisan support for the grassroots post office: “As many Republicans as Democrats hear back from their constituents, ‘What happened to my mail? How did it take so long? ‘

To Porter McConnell, whose mother is Mitch McConnell’s first wife, a feminist historian, the far-reaching network of valuable government outposts is an ideal entry point for progressives who support providing additional government services, such as “nonbank financial services and, ultimately, free checking and savings accounts. They used to be in the 60’s. ”

DJOI has responded to progressive calls and implemented a pilot postal banking program in four locations. Nevertheless, Porter McConnell is unhappy with the death sentence: “They did not advertise, [and] It’s an incredibly niche product. “McConnell’s position in postal banking aligns him with popular senators, including Elizabeth Warren and Sherwood Brown, not his popular father.

“In Appalachia,” he noted, “often to check your email, you have to drive up the hill in the city and hold your phone,” so why not turn small town post office parking lots into wireless internet hotspots? Moreover, “not every small town has a FedEx Kinkos. The ability to do things like print and fax and check a computer terminal, all of these things will be very effective, especially in rural communities that are often represented by Republicans.” He praised Japanese mail subscribers for an option available: a health check for elderly parents. Some U.S. post offices already “do it out of the righteousness of their hearts,” he said. Nevertheless, it may formally become an additional service.

McConnell, who has been with Americans for financial reform for nearly five years and has taken an illegal tax haven as director of the Financial Transparency Alliance for the same period, wants to embrace post office change. “There was a time in 1911 when there was a heated national debate over whether USPS should be allowed to deliver packages,” he recalled. Wells Fargo resisted competition, “and then the parcel post was born.” Lessons? “I don’t think the idea that USPS should innovate from time to time is carried by history.”

The opportunities presented by the presence of post offices in each neighborhood irritate McConnell’s dislike of DJ’s narrow-minded approach: McDonald’s combined. The key is to move on … you continue to deliver mail to people, what else can we do to keep USPS profitable and continue to provide services? “

But to realize that vision requires, first and foremost, an effective post office. As DJOY is willing to repeal the catastrophic pre-funding order that threatened the financial basis of the USPS, the progressives have wisely sidelined everything, including their hatred of DJOI, and seized the opportunity. It cannot be said that the progressives cannot play the game of Washington.

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