The U.S. Postal Service, like newspapers or the electric company, don’t usually garner much public sympathy. Folks take mail service for granted when things go well but are outraged (or worse) when their mail isn’t delivered on time.
But the Postal Service likely got a big boost in popularity when Congress — loathed more than, well, just about any entity in America — was able to block the USPS effort to cut costs by dropping Saturday mail service. The USPS decision was forced when Congress did not remove legislative language mandating six-day delivery from recent spending legislation.
“Although disappointed with this Congressional action, the (Postal Service) Board will follow the law and has directed the Postal Service to delay implementation of its new delivery schedule until legislation is passed that provides the Postal Service with the authority to implement a financially appropriate and responsible delivery schedule,” the USPS blog stated last week.
“This reversal significantly undercuts the credibility of postal officials who have told Congress that they were prepared to defy political pressure and make difficult but necessary cuts,” U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said.
Is he serious? The Postal Service can’t win regardless of the direction it goes. It either flounders in debt or it cuts service to reduce debt-drawing complaints from Congress, which does have the power to impose its will.
The Postal Service lost $15.9 billion last year, which cannot be sustained with its current mandates without government subsidy.
The USPS, once funded by the government, had been set up to operate as if it were a private corporation. It has to cover all its cost with its revenue. But in reality it is not a private corporation. Lawmakers have authority over the USPS because it receives a congressional appropriation (a meager 1 percent to fund mail service for the blind and overseas ballots).
The unrealistic rules and mandates from the members of Congress, who don’t have the same vision for the mail service, are sinking the USPS with their conflicting demands.
Perhaps lawmakers should stop whipsawing the Postal Service into confusion and attempt to figure out what the nation’s expectation should be for the Postal Service.
Then either provide the funds necessary for the mandated services or give the Postal Service the power to make its own business decisions — the same as any other corporation.