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USPS Springs Back with More Losses

Wednesday August 20th, 2014   •   Posted by K. Lloyd Billingsley at 9:31am PDT   •  

In January, the United States Postal Service hiked the price of stamps and its package shipping increased, but as Reuters reports, “The U.S. Postal Service continued to bleed money during its second quarter.” From April to June, the USPS lost $2 billion, compared with $1.9 billion in the first quarter and $740 million in the second quarter last year. So the USPS is a bigger loser than ever, and it still resists reform.

usps-logo-200Some USPS bosses want to cut back on door-to-door mail delivery and end Saturday delivery. Trouble is, government-employee unions oppose those moves. A statement from National Association of Letter Carriers boss Frederic Rolando said, “Given the positive mail trends, it would be irresponsible to degrade services to Americans and their businesses, which would drive away mail – and revenue – and stop the postal turnaround in its tracks.”

What positive trends and turnaround Rolando has in mind remains unclear. In the second quarter, first-class mail dropped 1.4 percent, part of a long-term trend toward electronic communication.

As we noted in May, Roland also wants to eliminate the congressional mandate to prefund health benefits, which some blame for USPS financial troubles. USPS chief financial officer Joseph Corbett, however, went on record saying that such a move would not balance the books, noting that USPS liabilities exceed assets by $42 billion. Based on current trends, the losses are likely to get worse.

If legislators ever get serious about reform, they should lift the USPS monopoly on first-class mail and let the “service” compete with UPS, FedEx, and other companies on that front, just as it now does in package shipping. Only competition in an open market can spur the reforms the USPS needs. Otherwise the federal government will continue to abuse embattled taxpayers, and common sense, by keeping this born loser afloat.

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August 2014