By Susan McFarland – UPI
President Donald Trump has formed a new task force to examine the operations model of the U.S. Postal Service, in view of mounting financial losses.
Trump signed an executive order Thursday to form the panel, days after he blasted online retailer Amazon for making the USPS its “delivery boy.”
The order said a decline in first-class mail volume, coupled with legal mandates that force the USPS to incur substantial and inflexible costs, resulted in a deficit where revenues can no longer fund pension liabilities and retiree health obligations owed to current employees.
“The USPS is on an unsustainable financial path and must be restructured to prevent a taxpayer-funded bailout,” it states.
The USPS has incurred $65 billion in cumulative losses since the Great Recession and has been unable to make payments required by law for its retiree health benefit obligations, which totaled more than $38 billion at the end of 2017.
“It shall be the policy of my administration that the United States postal system operate under a sustainable business model to provide necessary mail services to citizens and businesses, and to compete fairly in commercial markets,” Trump said in the statement.
The task force will be chaired by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, with help from the directors of the Office of Management and Budget and Office of Personnel Management.
The first thing on a list of needed evaluations is the expansion and pricing of the package delivery market. Other studies will include the decline in mail volume and its implications for USPS self-financing, the USPS monopoly over letter delivery and mailboxes and the definition of the “universal service obligation” considering changes in technology, e-commerce, marketing practices and customer needs.
The task force is also charged with looking at the USPS’ role in rural areas, communities and small towns — as well as the state of the USPS business model, workforce, operations, costs and pricing.
Trump’s Twitter attacks against Amazon said the company is costing U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars through cheaper postal rates, but the USPS said it does not receive money from the federal government to operate.
“The Postal Service receives NO tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.”
Some financial analysts say the post office has actually benefited from Amazon, because it receives more revenue when they deliver more packages.
During the last quarter of 2017, the USPS handled 7 percent more packages over the same period of 2016 — while mail delivery declined about 5 percent.