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Postal Service needs to use epidemic dollars

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. So goes the United States Postal Service’s motto.

No one said anything about lack of funding.

Despite his denials, President Donald Trump is being accused by some of withholding funds available to the USPS, allegedly in order to limit the agency’s ability to handle tens of millions of mailed-in ballots for the Nov. 3 election.

If indeed anyone is failing to use resources available to the Postal Service, changes are in order. Billions of dollars in emergency funding linked to the coronavirus epidemic are available already. USPS officials should be using them.

In addition, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has suggested another emergency appropriation of $25 billion for the Postal Service. It is doubtful the agency needs that much to cope with COVID-19 — or the November election — but if some additional money is needed, it should be provided by lawmakers.

But neither COVID-19 nor politics is at the heart of the Postal Service’s money crisis. It existed long before the pandemic. It will persist long after the virus — this one, at least — has been controlled.

“Legacy” costs are the albatross around the Postal Service’s neck. That translates to enormous pension liabilities built up over years, with no way of dealing with them except for demanding a taxpayer bailout.

Somehow, that challenge must be addressed. How? The possibilities are limited and they all trace back to either taxpayers or USPS customers — the same people.

For now, however, the issue is whether the Postal Service is using all the money at its disposal to ensure that the mail is delivered efficiently. If that is not happening, whatever the reason may be, heads should roll.

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