The United States Postal Service (USPS) has found itself in dire straits during the coronavirus crisis, with over a thousand employees having tested positive for the virus and more than 40 dead. On top of that, they have a looming financial disaster to contend with: "The Postal Service may be about to go broke," John Oliver said during the latest episode of Last Week Tonight on Sunday, noting they've recently asked Congress for $89 billion. "Without financial help, the USPS may not make it past September without significant service interruptions, which is upsetting especially during an election year, a census year and a pandemic that has people house-bound."
Oliver explains in the segment the importance of the USPS beyond just delivering packages, and how most of the USPS' problems are due to the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006, which requires the USPS to prepay health care benefits for retirees on a 50-year schedule, starting with an "aggressive obligation" of setting aside over $5 billion a year for 10 years. After making a profit in previous years, things immediately changed: it reported a net income of $900 million in 2006, and a loss of $3.8 billion in 2009.
And of course, President Donald Trump is balking at helping to bail them out: "Trump is strongly opposed to giving the USPS sufficient aid, and many believe it's because of its relationship with Amazon, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post, whose political coverage is hated by the president, who, as we know, makes policy decisions based on his never-ending game of Six Degrees Of How Is This About Me?" Oliver said.
However, the USPS is for the most part a "self-funded entity that operates independently and pays for itself" with money made via purchases of postage and other services. To help out, Oliver has now launched a line of Last Week Tonight-branded stamps on Stamps.com, including various Last Week Tonight mainstays such as Chiijohn, Mr. Nutterbutter, a zebra mascot who directs traffic in Bolivia and a stamp that says "AND NOW...A STAMP."