By Larry Riggs
So the U.S. Postal Service finally got Congress’s attention by unilaterally declaring it would end Saturday first class mail delivery, apparently using a novel interpretation of federal law.
But now reports are surfacing that Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe is “begging” Congress to let the USPS make this move, thinking it will save $2 billion a year.
Which is it Pat? Begging or bulldogging?
He must know deep down that the postal service has no leg to stand on in this matter. But that’s not stopping the USPS from declaring its “new delivery schedule” on its website http://about.usps.com/news/electronic-press-kits/five-day-delivery/ataglance.htm
So far, the only countermove to this has been a just-passed House Republican-proposed rider to a spending bill mandating six-day delivery.
This is surprising especially because Rep. Darryl Issa (R-CA), chair of the House oversight committee, favors cutting Saturday delivery, reports The Hill
It’s worth noting that Issa’s postal reform bill mandating five-day delivery among other things failed to make it out of the House last year.
But Issa’s not giving up. Despite this House measure, he believes the USPS has the legal authority to cut delivery if it wants to http://www.govexec.com/oversight/2013/03/continuing-resolution-muddies-usps-plan-end-saturday-delivery/61744/.
The House can pass all the resolutions it wants to but none of them can solve the USPS’s financial crisis.
At last count, the postal service lost nearly $16 billion loss for the year ended Sept. 30, and reported a loss of $1.3 billion for the quarter ended Dec. 31 http://about.usps.com/news/national-releases/2013/pr13_021.htm.
But it looks like the postal service may have a harder time than it expected to cut out Saturday delivery. Last month, for example, group of 23 Senators openly challenged the USPS’s plans http://vtdigger.org/2013/02/17/sanders-23-other-senators-challenge-end-of-saturday-usps-delivery/.
Even if it’s successful, the USPS will still be hemorrhaging money thanks largely but not exclusively to the more than $5.8 billion it must pay each year to cover the healthcare costs of future retirees.
In a worst case scenario, maybe the public will get used to the generally reduced federal government services brought about recently by automatic budget cuts and won’t care about less mail delivery.
Let’s hope not.