The Latest Chapter in Postal Melodrama

Congress is still dickering around with the fate of the U.S. Postal Service as it moves closer to insolvency. What is it waiting for?

In the latest chapter in this long-running melodrama Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) has proposed a revised postal reform bill that still wants to end Saturday mail delivery and cut longstanding employee protections, according to

Issa’s mostly unpalatable bill would also wipe out the USPS’s annual obligation of more than $5.8 million to prepay future retiree healthcare costs. Some Republican members of Congress snuck this provision into the last postal reform law in 2006.

In exchange for this, this measure would impose a new financial control board on the USPS, replacing them current Board of Governors. Such a board would effectively privatize the USPS.

Issa knows very well his bill could never pass—even in the GOP-controlled House–in its current form .His very similar bill last year never got out of committee before President Obama was re-elected.

At the same time, the USPS has floated the idea of stopping delivery to home addresses in new residential in favor of just delivering mail to centrally located mailboxes in those complexes.

According to the USPS Office of the Inspector General the USPS pays more than $350 per stop to deliver mail in cities.
This includes salaries and shipping costs. But curbside mail box delivery costs $224, while cluster boxes cost $160

Yeah, doing this could save the postal service a pile of money for sure. But this would set a bad precedent for taking away an essential public service.

If the USPS could get away with dumping everybody’s personal mail at one central location in a housing subdivision, what’s to stop it from doing the same thing in crowded urban neighborhoods?

Do the USPS and Congress really expect the public, to say nothing of commercial mailers or postal employee unions to sit still for this? For not delivering mail to their front doors as they have for more than 200 years?

Maybe postal reform isn’t as sexy as, say, immigration reform and the public is unlikely to get excited about it. But just wait until ordinary people can no longer get their mail delivered the way they used to.

As for Issa’s bill, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has indicated it might get floor time after Congress’s August recess. But even if the House passes this bill, it’s unlikely to reconcile with the Senate’s postal reform bill before Sept. 30, the date when the USPS must pay its more than $5.8 billion healthcare obligation.

If the postal service defaults on this payment—which it will—Congress and/or President Obama might come up with some sort of half-baked band aid solution that will solve nothing.

And Congress will continue to allow the USPS to keep hemorrhaging money.

This entry was posted in postal finances, U.S. Postal Service. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Latest Chapter in Postal Melodrama

  1. Lynn says:

    It seems like the USPS keeps coming up with “cost-saving” measures that will not really save that much money but are unpalatable to the public– maybe they are hoping the public will wake up and demand Congressional action. This strategy has not worked so far. It only appears to make the USPS seem somewhat ridiculous and ineffectual.
    Why can’t we just acknowledge that the Post Office is a public service, and fully fund it?


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