Postal debt remains concern

By Observer Upload April 16, 2013 07:44 am
Come rain, sleet, snow or hail, nasty dogs and Saturdays, the Postal Service delivers. And now, thanks to Congress, there’s no worry about interrupting the old routines of picking up bills on Saturdays. There’s also no worry about making changes anytime soon, no matter how much dollars and sense it makes.

Back in February, the U.S. Postal Service decided to cut home delivery of first class mail starting in August. Mail carriers would quit delivering everything except packages on Saturday as a way to hold down the Postal Service’s monumental losses. The agency asked, pleaded even, with Congress to drop from spending legislation the longtime ban on five-day-only delivery.

Congress failed to deliver. 

As you may know, the Postal Service is an independent agency but under Congressional control. It gets no tax dollars for day-to-day operations.

So now we continue as usual with six-day delivery and the Postal Service getting bitten time and again by the red-ink dog.

Part of the reason for the hemorrhaging red ink is advance health payments. The Postal Service lost nearly $16 billion last year, which is not exactly a model for long-term business success. The bulk of that — $11.1 billion — was due to a 2006 law passed by Congress that forces the Postal Service to pay into future retiree health benefits.

We’re all for taking care of employees. And we’re all for timely delivery of the mail to businesses, seniors, veterans and others.

At the same time Congress stalls, the Postal Service is contemplating raising revenues, including a rate increase for postage stamps.

It’s time Congress let the agency realign its business plan to better compete in the marketplace.