So why are some of the people who represent us in Washington, DC, willing to kill the most trusted brand and most popular institution in America?
One man, Charles Koch, has played a singular role.
He has used his vast fortune to fertilize theories that were once at the far fringes of society–like abolishing the Postal Service. And he has amplified his anti-government agenda through special interest groups he has grown.
The truth is that Koch, one of the richest men in America and the world, has been helping to fund and fuel efforts to kill the Postal Service and other public institutions dating back to the 1970s, though few Americans know it.
Here is a quick timeline on this:
- 1970s Charles Koch stakes Robert Poole and Reason magazine and the Reason Foundation as they promote attacks on the Postal Service that endorse a for-profit postal system and “privatization” generally.
- 1976 Koch stakes the Libertarian Party, which urges the public institutions and programs be eliminated including “the abolition of the governmental Postal Service.”
- 1977 Koch stakes Ed Crane and co-founds the Cato Institute, which urges that government functions be handled by the “free market.”
- 1980 David Koch runs of Vice President on a privatization platform, including for the Postal Service. Poole publishes a book subsidized by the Reason Foundation, whose angel investor is Charles Koch, which urges the privatization of local government functions and more.
- 1980 Charles Koch stakes Richard Fink at George Mason, and Fink urges Ronald Reagan’s “Grace Commission” to privatize government functions; the Commission’s recommendations including outsourcing thousands of Postal Service jobs and Post Offices.
- 1984 Charles Koch stakes Fink in co-founding Citizens for a Sound Economy, which advocates for privatizing government functions.
- 1985 Fink/CSE testify for the confirmation of James Miller to be Director of OMB. CSE hosts Miller at a White House meeting on privatization and urges a new privatization commission.
- 1986 David Koch urges Poole and Reason to create an annual privatization report.
- 1987 Reagan appoints Fink to the Privatization Commission, which is aided by Miller.
- 1988 The Privatization Commission urges the privatization of the Postal Service, and Citizens for a Sound Economy applauds that proposal and more. Cato publishes Miller calling for privatizing the Postal Service and first class mail, in particular.
- 1988 Miller leaves administration to become Chairman and Counsellor to Citizens for a Sound Economy, working with Fink to push privatization.
- 1980s-1990s Miller, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Cato, and Reason all promote privatization of the U.S. Postal Service.
- 2003 Geroge W. Bush nominates Miller to the Postal Service Board of Governors. Senator Susan Collins chairs his nomination hearing and helps shepherd him to confirmation. Miller remains on the board of Citizens for a Sound Economy’s successor, Americans for Prosperity.
- 2005 The year before Miller endorses dramatic changes to the Postal Service it has nearly $1 billion in profit and nearly $20 billion surplus.
- 2006 Miller, then chair of the Board of the Postal Service, urges Congress to adopt a bill to “transform” the Postal Service, which saddles it with billions in debt annually and moves its reserve into funding 50 years of future retiree health benefits up front. Collins shepherds that bill to Bush’s desk, with Miller by her side.
- 2006 At the 20th anniversary of Reason’s “Annual Privatization Report,” former British Prime Minister pays tribute to Reason; Poole is credited in her biography with providing the blueprint for the UK’s privatization (although she hold off on privatizing the Royal Mail), which is in turn credited with advancing that agenda in the U.S.
- 2007 After adoption of Miller’s plan, Postal Service is in the red.
- 2014 At Miller’s hearing for a second term, he thanks Senator Mitch McConnell for urging his renomination and again urges privatizing the Postal Service. Miller remains on board of Koch’s Americans for Prosperity, alongside David Koch and other Koch insiders.
- 2014-2019 Charles Koch-funded or -founded groups continue to urge privatization of the Postal Service. David Koch dies.
- 2020 Postal Service seeks $70 billion in loans and other support. Koch-funded or -founded groups oppose, including Cato, Reason, the Heritage Foundation, and Americans for Prosperity. The latter urges that the HEROES Act, which would help the Postal Service contending with the economic crisis caused by Covid-19, be blocked–though it agressively pushed for tax cuts that benefit Koch and his network.
- 2020 Americans for Prosperity expressly denounces any funding for the Postal Service, despite the Postal Service performing “essential” work in the pandemic and with the growing need for vote by mail. Americans for Prosperity also begins running digital ads targeting several U.S. Senators to toe the Koch line against the Postal Service. Miller remains on the small board of Koch’s Americans for Prosperity, the longest serving leader of this arm of Koch’s political operation other than David Koch. The total amount Americans for Prosperity is spending on this campaign against the Postal Service is unknown.
Read Lisa Graves’ full brief on Charles Koch’s decades-long effort to kill the U.S. Postal Service at In The Public Interest.