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home : opinions : editorials February 5, 2016

4/17/2013 11:33:00 AM
USPS deserves a better deal
Courtesy the Daily Courier

The U.S. Postal Service and Congress are dancing without music. Everyone knows the government should not be competing with private businesses, and efforts to cut costs, realign business plans and political support are grinding ... even waning.

In case you missed it, the financially beleaguered Postal Service backpedaled this week on its plan to end Saturday mail delivery by August, conceding that its gamble to compel congressional approval had failed.

With limited options for saving money, the Associated Press reported, the Postal Service's governing board said the agency should reopen negotiations with unions to lower labor costs and consider raising mail prices.

Good ideas, all. Business as usual continues.

To be clear, the problem with the Postal Service is not its operation. It registered a $100 million gross profit - revenues above operating costs - in the past fiscal year. The only reason they're in such debt - losing $15.9 billion last year - is that Congress mandated that they prepay for expected retiree healthcare costs, among other expenses, 75 years into the future.

That's right, those stamp increases are helping to pay for a USPS employee's pension and benefits - an employee who is not an employee yet, likely not even born yet.

Still, the USPS will not meet its goals for reduced spending without altering the delivery schedule, its board told Congress. Delaying "responsible changes," the board said, only makes it more likely that the Postal Service "may become a burden" to taxpayers.

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will get Congress to the swift completion of its appointed rounds. In other words, what will it take for our government to finally get the message? Times have changed and the USPS business model is not working.

These are the same Washington politicians who continue to spend our taxes and regulate our lives. No wonder there is little trust there. Postal officials said that to restore the service to long-term financial stability, the agency must have the flexibility to reduce costs and come up with new revenues.

It is called "an independent agency," since it gets no tax dollars for its day-to-day operations. Nothing independent here, because it remains subject to congressional control.

Given these circumstances and the worsening financial condition of the Postal Service, we see little hope until this Congress-wearing-blinders drives the service into the ground. Then it will be a message of, "I guess we should have..."

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