Reform the Postal Service needs
“Let’s put aside for a moment the real purpose” of President Trump’s call for reforms to the Postal Service, said Joe Nocera. He believes, of course, that changes might harm Amazon’s business, and by extension CEO Jeff Bezos, who owns The Washington Post. But if Trump’s motives are off, his aim is spot on. “The post office does indeed need to be reformed.” It’s Congress that deserves much of the blame. Back in 1971 the Postal Service became an independent agency, answering no longer to the president, but to lawmakers. Over the years, the Postal Service has proposed reform after reform to save money, from ending Saturday delivery and closing rural post offices to offering banking services. Every time, “Congress said no.” Then in 2006, when the post office had a $900 million surplus, lawmakers imposed “an insane mandate” that it prepay all future expected retiree health-care benefits. “Every year since, it has lost billions.” Amazon has actually helped stem the bleeding: The USPS’s package business swelled by more than 11 percent last year, even as mail volume slid 3.6 percent. Any independent body assessing the USPS would likely recommend raising stamp prices, rather than increasing charges on its fastest-growing business. But in these partisan times, genuine, clear-headed reform seems unlikely.