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At USPS, DeJoy eyes possible new slowdowns, higher postage rates

Between Louis DeJoy's record and the system's recent difficulties, it's difficult to feel confident about the effects of his "plan."
USPS delivery trucks
A New Orleans post office manager is accused of stealing stamps to fund a gambling habit.ullstein bild via Getty Images

Perhaps you've noticed that mail deliveries are taking longer than they used to. Maybe you've even received Christmas cards in February that were sent in December. Perhaps you've been hit with late fees for paying a bill on time, despite sending the check with what seemed like plenty of lead time.

But if you're working from the assumption that the larger U.S. Postal System will soon bounce back, think again. NBC News reported over the weekend:

U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is set to implement a new strategic plan that includes higher postage rates and the elimination of first-class tier of mail, two sources familiar with the move told to NBC News on Friday. The plan to eliminate first-class mail, which includes letters, magazines, catalogs, among others, would slow down mail that typically arrives within two days and make it more costly to deliver for both consumers and businesses.

The Washington Post had a related report adding that the strategic plan crafted by DeJoy -- a former Republican fundraiser tapped by Donald Trump for the USPS leadership post -- "also prevents first-class mail from being shipped by airplane ... forcing all of it into trucks and a relay of distribution depots." The article also noted that this would coincide with "significantly" higher postage rates.

In fairness, it's worth emphasizing that DeJoy hasn't officially unveiled any details, and we may yet see changes to the blueprint.

But between DeJoy's record and the system's recent difficulties, it's difficult to feel confident about the effects of his "plan."

As for why President Joe Biden hasn't fired DeJoy, as we discussed last week, he can't. The USPS's board of governors could choose a new postmaster general, but for now, the board is dominated by Republican appointees, which means DeJoy's job is safe, at least for now.

The Associated Press reported last week, however, that the White House is eager to fill vacancies on the USPS board, which would give Democrats a majority on the panel. "It is imperative that the Biden administration fill these openings promptly so that we can right this ship that has gone off course," Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union, told the AP.

And while personnel certainly matters, so too do finances. NBC News reported two weeks ago:

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate introduced legislation that would provide the Postal Service much-needed financial relief by doing away with a mandate that required it to prepay retirement benefits decades in advance. The issue stems from a 2006 law that required the Postal Service to create a $72 billion fund that would pay for its employees' retirement health benefits for more than 50 years into the future. This is not required by any other federal agency.

As NBC News' report added, the "USPS Fairness Act" would do away with the mandate, which would dramatically help with Postal System's financial standing.

Watch this space.