Friday, November 19, 2021

Fixing USPS will be slow, but Biden is probably going as fast as he can

I know a lot of people who have been frustrated that almost one year into Biden's term, Louis DeJoy is still postmaster general. The problem is that the USPS's governing structure is designed to give it some independence from whoever happens to hold the presidency. And that is good! DeJoy's postal "reforms" were always part of the Trump agenda, but because of the procedural hurdles to changing policy, they weren't able to get a majority on the USPS Governing Board and install DeJoy as postmaster general until June 2020 (in the last six months of Trump's term),. Even then DeJoy wasn't able to institute his plan to ruin the USPS until October 2021, almost five years after Trump won the presidency in November 2016. Bureaucracy is frustrating, but in that case it protected USPS from a destructive conflicts-ridden postmaster general for almost all of Trump's term, and then prevented Trump's troll from doing major damage until after Trump was already out of office.

Of course now that Biden is in office, those same institutional barriers that made change slow for Trump are now slowing down Biden too. But in comparison, Biden is making a lot faster progress. He got three members of the USPS Board of Governors confirmed just 4 months into Biden's term, giving Democrats a majority on the USPS Board. Unfortunately, one of the Democrats that Trump appointed, Ronald Bloom, still supported DeJoy so there were not enough votes to fire DeJoy and reverse his changes before DeJoy put them into effect on October 1, 2021.

Luckily, Ron Bloom's term expires next month. After 77 public interest groups urged Biden not to reappoint Bloom, Biden is expected to announce today that he will nominate someone else for the Bloom seat. Plus the term of another USPS Board of Governors member, Republican John Barger, also expires next month. So Biden should be able to nominate two new members to the Board, making an easy vote to get rid of DeJoy.

Of course, those two new members need to be formally nominated and confirmed by the Senate first. It is still going to be a slow process. But DeJoy should be gone by mid-2022, which would be less than a year after his disastrous postal reforms went into effect. That counts as record time given the bureaucratic realities in my book.