The Postal Service is slowing the mail to save money. Critics say it’s a death spiral

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A man pulls up to drop off mail at the mailboxes at the Portland Post Office in Portland, Maine, on Dec. 4, 2020.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald via Getty

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Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald via Getty

Mail Delivery Is About To Get Slower And Pricier Just In Time For The Holidays

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The Postal Service says that 61% of first-class mail will not be affected by the slowdown, which is caused in part by the agency’s decision to rely less on moving mail by air, and more by ground transportation.

The Postal Service did not make anyone available for an interview for this story, but in a video on its website, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy defended the cutback, part of the Postal Service’s «Delivering for America» plan, as necessary:

«We are in a big hole, right, we’re in a big hole, we need to realize that we’re in a big hole and we need to find our way out of it … and basically we can’t do all things at all costs and need to bring excellence into our operating practices.»

The Postal Service lost $9.2 billion in fiscal year 2020.

Kevin Yoder is a former Republican lawmaker who leads a new group, Keep US Posted, which comprises mail users like greeting card companies and small newspapers. He calls this a «key moment» for the Postal Service.

«It’s one of America’s most trusted institutions that Americans rely on every single day in this country,» Yoder says. «And this is an essential service that we think many of us have taken for granted, and it’s facing challenges now and it needs our help.»

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One thing that would help, Yoder says, is for Congress to pass the Postal Service Reform Act, legislation that would eliminate the requirement the Postal Service prepay its retirees’ health benefits, which would save the agency an estimated $46 billion over 10 years. The measure has bipartisan support but has not yet been approved by either chamber.

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McConnell of the Save the Post Office Coalition says the Postal Service should also take advantage of its network of more than 31,000 post offices to increase its revenues.

«There are more post offices than McDonald’s and Starbucks combined,» she says. «We should be turning those post offices into a community hub. You can bring back postal banking. You can offer office services like printing, copying, faxing. You can do free Wi-Fi in the parking lot.»

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McConnell says the Postal Service doesn’t «need to be apologizing for their presence in our communities.»

In fact, the Postal Service has launched a very limited experiment in postal banking in the Washington-Baltimore area and the Bronx. Advocates say the agency needs to do more to increase its business without further cutting its services.

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