Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Who Runs the USPS? | FrontBurner

Who Runs the USPS?

Posted on August 7th, 2011 10:26pm by Bethany Anderson
Filed under Local News

I ask because Friday former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert (now vying for a Senate seat), tweeted this:

How does Obama expect govt to run healthcare if it cant (sic)  run the post office? USPS lost $3.1 bill in Q3http://t.co/dJfqDEu #txsen

Now, after I made my knee quit jerking, I settled in to do some rudimentary research on who exactly runs the United States Postal Service. Now, yes, some of you are going to tell me what I thought: The Post Office (as we all like to call it) is a private entity. Or maybe you’re going to tell me it’s a government agency. Turns out, we’d all kind of be right.

But this still doesn’t narrow down who runs the USPS, and who is to blame for any deficit. To do that, I had to read a lot more. Lucky for you, I’ve had a touch of the insomnia lately, and can read and Google all the live long day. What have I learned? For one, the USPS was a federal agency, and the Postmaster General did at one time have a Cabinet seat. But in the 1970s, the laws changed, and the USPS was mandated to be revenue neutral and break even. It was also later changed to make stamps and other postage a product, not a tax, which means that the only tax dollars that come to the USPS are the dollars used to subsidize reduced postage for certain materials, like those for the handicapped.

But again, that really doesn’t speak to who is in charge. Now, if you’re talking day-to-day operations, that would be a Postmaster General, who is elected by 10 people on a Board of Governors. This board is required to be made up of no more than five people of the same party (in other words, the best  you can have is a 50/50 split of Democrat and Republican influence). They serve 9 year terms, and are appointed by the President and voted in by the Senate.

The current Postmaster General is Patrick R. Donahoe. According to a statement by board member James C. Miller III in April, the board was made up of four Democrats and four Republicans, with one vacancy. Those on the board were appointed by either George W. Bush or Barack Obama.

So in other words, the day to day running and ultimate decision making regarding this sort-of government agency that is run like a private business is in the hands of a board that is equally made up of both parties, and was appointed by a Democratic president, and a Republican president.

All of this information, if you’re still awake, is to say that Leppert’s tweet is disingenuous at best, and misleading at worst. But then again, this is politics, so none of us are surprised, right?

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