By Larry Riggs
The U.S. Postal Service now thinks it can unilaterally stop delivering letter mail on Saturday http://about.usps.com/news/national-releases/2013/pr13_019.htm without first getting the OK from Congress.
According to Bloomberg News, the USPS is reinterpreting the law and believes it can just go ahead and cut out a delivery day on its own http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-07/u-s-post-office-plans-to-stop-saturday-mail-deliveries.html.
The postal service said Wednesday it could save up to $2 billion a year by making this cutback beginning this August. This would also result in the loss of more than 20,000 jobs in both the USPS itself and related industries.
Yes, I’m sure there are some lawmakers who wouldn’t mind the further loss of public sector union jobs.
To its credit, the postal service isn’t even thinking about reducing its services in the far more lucrative area of package delivery.
More than likely, the USPS felt its back was up against a wall and made this move to force Congress to pay attention to its dire financial state. The postal service lost $15.9 billion for the year ended Sept. 30 and has no visible means for making up this shortfall.
Meanwhile, the postal service keeps calling on Congress to pass postal reform legislation.
Indeed, last April, the Senate passed its version of postal reform but that bill died since the House did not act, probably because its sponsor Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) lacked the votes to have it pass the full chamber.
This postal service’s estimated $2 billion in cost savings—a figure that is in some dispute—wouldn’t go very far considering it lost nearly eight times that amount last year.
That’s largely because the USPS is still saddled with an annual obligation to pay more than $5.8 billion each year to cover healthcare costs of future retirees—something no other federal agency has to deal with.
This obligation somehow got slipped into the last postal reform law in 2007 which did so some good by guaranteeing small predictable annual postage rate hikes.
But this crushing financial burden has more than contributed its share to destroying the only government agency the public still trusts—even if more individuals and businesses are now communicating and buying electronically.