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The hefty raises given to U.S. Postal Service bosses did not prevent losses of more than $15 billion last year. The postal bosses now want to reduce those massive losses by eliminating Saturday mail delivery, a congressional mandate dating from 1981. But since 2007 first-class mail volume has declined by 37 percent, giving way to email, online bill-pay, and other electronic conveniences. Roughly 70 percent of Americans now favor five-day delivery, also backed by the Obama administration.
Postmaster General Patrick R. Donohoe, whose pay rose from $384,229 in 2011 to $512,093 in 2012, said “this is too big of a cost savings for us to ignore.” Trouble is, allegedly cost-conscious postal bosses are running into furious opposition.
Some lawmakers claim the USPS can’t drop Saturday delivery without approval from Congress. Rep Jose Serrano, New York Democrat, called for a “restructuring and reform package” that boosts efficiency “while maintaining vital services like Saturday delivery.”
Some businesses want to continue Saturday delivery but the strongest objection to ending it comes from government employee union bosses. Fredric Roland of the National Association of Letter Carriers said ending Saturday delivery is a “disastrous idea” that would hurt business, the elderly and the disabled. Government employee unions wield considerable clout, and that kind of rhetoric targets Congress. So whatever the cost savings, ending Saturday delivery is far from a done deal, even with support from the president and the people.
The USPS has been closing post offices, reducing hours, cutting staff and raising the price of a first-class stamp, which drew no object from Congress. Yet the USPS remains a big-time loser and government finds it hard to let the deadbeat take Saturday off. That should tell embattled taxpayers that prospects for serious reform in all federal agencies remain dim.
Meanwhile, if legislators want to reform the postal service they should end both Saturday delivery and the USPS monopoly on first-class mail. That would be real change people could believe in.