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US Postal Service Faces Cuts, Closures, Controversy Ahead Of 2020 Election. What's At Stake?

 Photo by Abstrakt Xxcellence Studios from Pexels CC0: https://bit.ly/39Nnjqt
Photo by Abstrakt Xxcellence Studios from Pexels CC0: https://bit.ly/39Nnjqt

The U.S. Postal Service, often overlooked and taken for granted as a part of everyday American life, was written into the Constitution as necessary to provide dispersed citizens open access to secure and private communication. But now the USPS is facing financial instability and politicization that could affect its long-relied-upon service in an election and decennial census year.

The USPS was self-sufficient for over two centuries, until the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act required the agency to pre-fund workers' retirement and health benefits, stipulated the price of postage and mandated delivery service six days a week — changes that have driven the USPS toward financial ruin.

The Trump administration appointed Louis DeJoy as 75th Postmaster General — a choice that was met with much criticism. DeJoy's plans to make the agency financially sustainable reportedly include cost-cutting measures like office closures and the elimination of overtime, which could cause delivery delays.

What new policies and procedures have been implemented so far and what else has been proposed?

What reprecussions could service cutbacks have for rural and tribal communities, senior citizens and incarcerated individuals? What are union leaders saying about how postal workers could be affected?

Why has the USPS become a political football? What are the potential ramifications for voting-by-mail in November? What about mailed responses for the 2020 Census? 

Has the postal service fared better or worse because of the COVID-19 pandemic? Will Congress include funding for the USPS in its next coronavirus response package?

What's at risk if the agency remains underfunded or is downsized? What are the pros and cons of privitizing the postal service? Should the USPS be run as a business or government service?

Guests:

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call  833-877-8255, email thesource@tpr.org  or tweet @TPRSource.

*This interview was recorded on Thursday, August 6.

Kathleen Creedon can be reached at kathleen@tpr.org or on Twitter at @Kath_Creedon
Kim Johnson is the producer for Texas Public Radio’s live, call-in show The Source. She is a Trinity University alum with bachelor’s degrees in Communication and Spanish, and a Master of Arts Degree from the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin.