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Democrats Introduce DEJOY Act To Thwart Postal Service Sabotage

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Postmaster Louis DeJoy has made a very powerful enemy: the U.S. Congress. Well, the Democrats who control the House, anyway. A group of House Democrats has introduced the "Delivering Envelopes Judiciously On-time Year-round Act." Yes, the DEJOY Act, which is a crime against legislative nomenclature. But the lawmakers are serious, intent on blocking DeJoy from implementing the service changes he intends, including slowing delivery of first-class mail to as long as five days.

"This is the best way to kill your business," Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, the Illinois Democrat and lead sponsor of the bill, said. "To basically say to your customers, 'We're not going to meet your expectations. You're going to meet our service realities, regardless of what ends up happening.'" Krishnamoorthi told The Washington Post that this "particular change, going from 100 percent of first-class mail being delivered one to three days to only 70 percent, would be a nonstarter, in my opinion, with the American people."

DeJoy's response to Congress in a hearing before he released his plan doomed the reception of it. While DeJoy wasn't quite as obnoxious and insulting to members as in previous outings, he still angered many of them. DeJoy actually said "Does it make a difference if it's an extra day to get a letter?" as if people weren't relying on the mail to get their prescriptions, to pay their bills, to receive checks. Then he had the chutzpah to say, "I would give myself an 'A' for bringing strategy and the planning and effort to here."

It's not just Congress that is set against DeJoy. Pennsylvania's Attorney General Josh Shapiro threatened legal action if DeJoy's changes "illegally come at the expense of those who rely on the mail for everything from paychecks to medications." The Postal Service, he reminds us, is a public service and "Changes to its universal service guarantee must go through a process that is designed to protect the public interest." Shapiro's office told the Post that "it was encouraged that DeJoy recognizes the legal obligations to secure limited regulatory approvals, but said it remained concerned about timely mail delivery."

DeJoy wants to slash service, cut USPS post office hours, and increase postage costs for consumers, delivering worse service for higher cost in his attempt to save $160 billion over 10 years. That's along with legislation from Congress that is likely to pass that will repeal the 2006 law forcing the USPS to pre-fund retiree health benefits 75 years in advance. It's the only agency that Congress has ever required to do that, a decision made when cooking the books to make the deficit look better.

The USPS is an off-budget entity—its operating expenses don't come out of the Treasury, but its payments into the federal health benefits system do, so this intergovernmental agency pumping funds in for retiree health benefits could be counted as revenue for the federal government. It was so much book-cooking but had real consequences in burdening the USPS. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, has legislation that would both repeal the 2006 law and enroll future retirees in Medicare. They're now in the federal employees benefits plan, where all that pre-funding money has been going.

DeJoy's planned price hikes and service cuts are getting panned by consumer groups—including business groups that rely on the mail. There are lawsuits in the works to force a stop to the changes. "In the entire fifty-eight pages of the plan there does not appear to be any effort to retain mail volume," PostCom, a national postal commerce advocacy group, wrote. "Apart from price increases and service reductions, there is little about mail in the plan at all. That's inaction." Another group, the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers, said "the plan will drive mail volume down to levels not seen since before it reached 100 billion in 1980. […] If we mailers win our federal lawsuit, the plan is sunk."

DeJoy has to be stopped before he can implement these changes. He should have been gone before now—when his disqualifying conflicts of interestsurfaced. The fact that the USPS Board of Governors picked DeJoy—who was unqualified, had never worked in the Postal Service, and who got the job after making big donations to Trump's convention—without any vetting process means they have to go, too.

Biden should fire the board. The Senate should make confirming Biden's new board members a top priority. The Postal Service is too critical an institution to let this malfeasance continue.

Thousands Of Poorly Protected Postal Workers Sick With Covid-19

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica

For months, one postal worker had been doing all she could to protect herself from COVID-19. She wore a mask long before it was required at her plant in St. Paul, Minnesota. She avoided the lunch room, where she saw little social distancing, and ate in her car.

The stakes felt especially high. Her husband, a postal worker in the same facility, was at high risk because his immune system is compromised by a condition unrelated to the coronavirus. And the 20-year veteran of the U.S. Postal Service knew that her job, operating a machine that sorts mail by ZIP code, would be vital to processing the flood of mail-in ballots expected this fall.

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Amid Mass Unemployment, Sen. Paul Demands Post Office Layoffs

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) argued during a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security Committee Friday that the United States Postal Service should cut jobs to save money — despite the fact that the country is currently experiencing a historic unemployment crisis, with tens of millions of Americans collecting job-loss benefits amid a coronavirus-fueled economic downturn.

"When the Post Office becomes desperate for money — less employees," Paul said Friday at a hearing with Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. "We started that a few years ago, but we've got to do more of it. Mail keeps dropping, you've got to have less employees."

DeJoy was called to answer questions about recent changes to the Postal Service that have caused significant delays in mail and package delivery.

The slowdowns have caused delays in such varied areas as the delivery of critical medications to veterans and of baby chicks to farmers, with chicks being reported to have arrived dead because of the lag.

Slowdowns at the agency have also raised questions about whether mail-in ballots will be counted on time and whether voters could face disenfranchisement due to Postal Service delays.

Paul, however, called for more cuts at the agency, which could further exacerbate delivery delays.

Paul also argued that the Postal Service should cut the number of delivery days in rural areas from six a week to five — something that would almost certainly impact many of Paul's own constituents in the largely rural state of Kentucky.

Cutting jobs is always unpopular.

However, arguing for more job cuts during a global pandemic, during which unemployment in the United States has risen to record highs, leaving tens of millions of workers jobless, could be politically damaging.

And the Postal Service — which currently employs more than 600,000 people across the country — is almost universally popular with Americans.

In a 2019 Gallup poll, 74 percent of Americans said the Postal Service was doing an "excellent" or "good" job, making it the top-rated federal agency.

That would also make tinkering with the agency politically risky, as Americans like the services they are receiving and could grow angry if they were to lose them.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

DeJoy Surrenders, Suspending Changes At Postal Service

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced on Tuesday that he is "suspending" changes to mail delivery that experts have said could cause voters to be disenfranchised.

DeJoy, a top Trump donor, had come under fire from Democratic lawmakers for the changes, including removing mail-sorting machines and mailboxes and cutting overtime hours for workers. Social media petitions and posts spread the word that the United States Postal Service was in danger.

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