The USPS has been slowly bleeding for the last decade. It has lost money for 13 years straight, it’s been forced to brutally cut its workforce and infrastructure, and it’s become more reliant on low-pay and part-time workers. At this rate, it will run out of funds in five years. This situation has turned the USPS into a topic of partisan rancor, with liberals blaming the right’s anti-government ethos, while conservatives blame liberals’ anti-market obtuseness.
But then last Wednesday’s passage of the USPS Fairness Act bucked the trend: It won a massive 309-to-106 majority in the House, including all 232 Democratic representatives, plus 87 Republicans. It does have sister legislation waiting in the Senate, which still needs to be passed. And then Trump (or whoever succeeds him) has to sign it — unless the bill passes the Senate with a similar two-thirds-or-more majority, in which case it’s veto proof.
What the USPS Fairness Act does is scrap a requirement first imposed by the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) of 2006 — that the USPS set aside enough money to cover its likely pension costs for the next 75 years. To fully understand the significance of that, we need to back up slightly.