By Porter McConnell
Louis DeJoy’s ten-year plan for the Postal Service starts taking effect on October 1st.
The price of the mail has already risen under DeJoy, and soon the mail will permanently slow down, too. DeJoy calls this ten-year plan “Delivering for America,” but it will do the exact opposite — slowing many First Class Mail deliveries down, taking their standard from three to five days. Slower ground transportation will also now be prioritized over air transportation.
These new service standards won’t improve the postal service—they will make it harder for people all across the country to receive their medications, bills, paychecks and more. Small businesses nationwide rely on First Class Mail to run their organizations, and the reliability and promptness of the USPS is crucial to their survival. When the mail is slower, people use it less—and the USPS loses even more money, making it a target for privatization.
These new standards are coming to pass despite unprecedented public opposition. More than 130,000 public comments were filed with the Federal Register in protest, virtually all opposed to any slowdown of the mail. And twenty-one Attorneys General filed their opposition with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). Even the PRC itself criticized the First Class Mail slowdowns in an unprecedented critique of postal policy.
So how did we get here? During the Trump Administration, the Office of Management and Budget recommended that the USPS be taken over by for-profit companies. According to that plan, a private postal service would be more inclined to “innovate and improve services” and would “have access to private capital markets to fund operational improvements.”
Months later, Donald Trump appointed Louis DeJoy as Postmaster General.
DeJoy wasted no time in getting to work. On-time delivery rates for the mail started plummeting. The whole nation was affected, but in October 2020, mail delay and delivery complaints were almost 50% higher in communities made up of more than 45% Black, Indigenous or other people of color.
In the lead-up to the 2020 election, when vote-by-mail was being used at unprecedented rates, DeJoy directed the removal and dismantling of mail sorting machines critical to USPS processing capacity across the country.
DeJoy plowed ahead with slowing down the mail without conducting appropriate impact analyses, or consulting with relevant stakeholders, on which communities and services would be the most harmed. There are even leaked internal documents that revealed DeJoy knew that these changes would slow down the mail.
His investments and stock holdings, even well into his tenure as Postmaster General, present serious conflicts of interest that are likely influencing his decisions. He’s invested more than $300,000 in Brookfield Asset Management, where USPS board chairman and staunch DeJoy ally Ron Bloom is a managing partner. In a classic bromance, Ron Bloom has in turn invested in postal contractor XPO Logistics, Louis DeJoy’s former company where he still has financial interests, and where USPS recently signed a $120 million contract
DeJoy’s plan is just the beginning of their march to privatize the U.S. mail.
Detractors like DeJoy and his crew argue that the agency is bleeding money and isn’t profitable — but that reality was engineered by Congress, which has made it impossible for USPS to introduce new products since a 2006 law. Now the people overseeing the agency don’t even believe in its mission of serving everyone.
Profit shouldn’t be the goal of the United States Postal Service. The USPS’s goal should be to fulfill its public service mandate. We can do this by making sure the mail is delivered on time to everyone, and giving the USPS the people and technology to expand its services to be a true community hub for the 21st century.
Since this country’s founding, the U.S. mail has served everyone with reliable and efficient mail and other services. The good paying careers that the agency provides are a critical part of the nation’s economy, too. The USPS is a pathway to the middle class for Black Americans, veterans, and women. This makes for a stronger and fairer economy—the post office is a national treasure that needs to stay.
President Biden has the power to remake the postal governing board and remove DeJoy. He must act soon to name two new governors who understand that the postal service is essential and must be strengthened as a beloved public institution.
Porter McConnell is Director of Take on Wall Street and Co-founder of the Save the Post Office Coalition.