Two widely discussed — and necessary — elements of postal sustainability include (1) ensuring the Postal Service operates its business-like functions as efficiently and reliably as possible, and (2) fixing the pre-funding of retiree benefits.
But it’s the funding model for the Postal Service that most needs fixing. Today’s service should be financed by a combination of congressional appropriations (reflecting the post office’s public sector role) and customer fees (reflecting its commercial identity).
This is not a new idea: It is how the Postal Service was funded for its first 200 years. Until President Richard Nixon signed the Postal Reorganization Act, or PRA, 50 years ago this month, we funded the agency with postage paid by those who send mail and annual appropriations by Congress, acknowledging mail delivery as a public service.