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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Last-legs report

Today's statement of the obvious:

The Postal Service lost $1.9 billion between January and March, and $15.9 billion last year. The 238-year-old institution loses $25 million each day, and has reached its borrowing limit with the federal Treasury. Daily mail delivery could be threatened within a year, officials say.

Americans increasingly go online to write letters, pay bills and read magazines, and mail volume has fallen by a quarter since 2006, according to the Government Accountability Office. The decline is expected to continue.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has reduced staff, consolidated mail facilities and lowered express delivery standards in an effort to cut spending. But the savings have not been enough to match the drop in revenue.

"We are in real trouble, and we need comprehensive postal reform yesterday," Mickey Barnett, chairman of the Postal Service Board of Governors, told a congressional committee last month.

[. . .]

"The Postal Service has far too little flexibility when it needs to adjust, and it's really in handcuffs because of all the requirements Congress puts on it," Schuyler said.

Postal officials recently tried to end Saturday letter delivery, which could have saved $2 billion per year, but Congress blocked it. A legislative proposal to replace doorstep delivery with curbside delivery, which would save $4.5 billion, failed last year. A plan to close thousands of rural post offices was abandoned after postal officials deemed the closures would "upset Congress a great deal," Barnett said.

I know the USPS has a "technology challenge," but that's not the whole problem. As the story notes, the Postal Service has survived new technology before -- the telegraph, telephone and TV, for example. It probably could survive the digital age, too, if Congress were more willing to let it be flexible.

Scared about the Affordable Health Care Act yet?


Wed, 05/29/2013 - 4:42pm

 In 2006, under Bush’s Republican Congress,  a law was passed requiring the post office to “pre-fund” its pension health costs for the next 75 years within a 10-year period (expiring in 2016) which is not required of any other government program. The law also forbade the post office from doing any outside business other than delivering mail such as working with local businesses to provide services or anything else that would make money. This was part of a plan to bankrupt the Postal Service in order to privatize the mail service so their friends could make big money and shrink government. And their plan is working now. Any wonder UPS and FedEx donate large sums of money to the Republicans?

This year the post office would have had a surplus of $1.5 billion if this law did not exist. The GOP never mentions that part when they complain that the post office is going bankrupt and something must be done. Postal workers have petitioned the politicians quite a few times asking them to rescind this law but politicians won’t even respond and, of course, make no attempt to help this government service.

The post office is the only federal service that is specifically named in the Constitution and takes not one cent from federal funds (no taxpayer involvement) They exist solely on the sale of stamps and the price of delivering packages. Even UPS and FedEx use the post office in order to deliver to more rural areas which is not profitable for them, so they pass them off to the Postal workers with no fees paid.