Senate Looks At Ways To Help Post Office

WASHINGTON (AP) — It looks like rescuing the financially struggling Postal Service is going to require thinking outside the mailbox.

The post office was more than $2 billion in the red for the first three months of this year and is facing an $8 billion loss for the fiscal year, which could force it to default on some payments to federal accounts.

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., said Tuesday he is introducing a bill to restructure postal finances and ease some of the restrictions that limit its flexibility.

“The Postal Service, the Postal Service’s inspector general, the Postal Regulatory Commission and two independent actuaries have all come to the conclusion that the Postal Service has overfunded its obligations to the Civil Service Retirement System by between $50 billion and $75 billion,” Carper told a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee on federal financial management.

Carper, chairman of the subcommittee, said he has introduced legislation that would allow the post office to use the overpaid money to make its make advance payments to cover future retiree health benefits — taking upwards of $5 billion off its books each year.

In addition, the bill would provide for new postal services such as delivering alcoholic beverages — currently banned in the mail — and provide more flexibility in closing offices.

“No business facing the kinds of difficulties the Postal Service faces would survive for very long if it were told how many retail outlets they should have and where they should be located,” Carper said of the agency that wants to close small, low-volume offices but faces fierce opposition when it tries to do so.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe welcomed the proposals and said he hoped Carper’s bill could be combined with legislation from Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to help set the post office on a course for a better future.

“We have aggressively cut costs in response to economic conditions and customer trends. We have reduced the size of our workforce by more than 112,000 employees in the last four years and we are consolidating both our mail processing facilities and our retail footprint. Our total cost reduction during this four-year period is in excess of $12 billion, Donahoe told the subcommittee.

The post office, which does not receive tax funds for its operations, has struggled with declining mail volume both because many people have switched to the Internet for personal communications and bill payments and because the recession caused businesses to reduce mailings.

New offerings such as boxes sold by the post office that ship for a flat rate regardless of the weight have been a success, Donahoe said.

He welcomed the idea of delivering alcoholic beverages ordered from stores or sent person to person, noting that is a large part of the business in some foreign postal services. Donahoe did note that such products would not be left at homes, but would be held at post offices for pickup by adults.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Comments

One Comment

  1. Gary Fales says:

    if companies send less junk mail, then the post office would save a lot of money.

    1. Contrare says:

      Not so. Junkmail makes up a large portion of the mail delivered each day. Businesses pay for postal service that deliveres this mail.
      Reducing the quantity of junkmail sent, would cost the post office a lot of money in lost revenue. Do the math.

  2. Jeff says:

    We don’t need mail on Saturday. Cut that out and save some money. 5 days a week is plenty of days to get mail.

    1. Common Sense says:

      Great idea.
      Lets toss the junkmail, that the post office delivers on Saturdays, into a giant mail truck and deliver it to a local recycling center. This would only require one driver.
      Next, lets designate the other drivers as “Saturday Alcohol Delivery Specialists”.
      We can order our booze on-line, and show picture ID when it is delivered to our door.
      If we tip the drivers well, do you think they could swing by the local KFC on their way to our homes?
      With the huge increase in profits that this would create; lets “Trick Their Rides” with chrome rims for their mail trucks too.

      Seriously now…the postal service was founded on the need to deliver paper mail. How long did they think the forests were going to last?

  3. sheriff says:

    The junkmail helps offset the cost of first class. Without it, we would be paying substantially more. We can save by letting go all the Blacks that sit & eat behind the walls all day instead of coming out & helping with the lines of people waiting to mail packages. I never saw so many Blacks as in the P.O. Must be a gravy job.

    1. Jamie says:

      Just because all you see is blacks, doesn’t mean that blacks are the only ones working at the Post Office. Get a life, and join us in the 21st century.

  4. PAUL E. MICELLI says:

    FIRST THING IS TO GET RID OF ALL THE DEADWOOD THAT ARE IN POSTAL SYSTEM STARTING FROM THE TOP AND ALL TH WAY DOWN TO THE LAST MAN/WOMAN. WAITING IN LINES, SLOW WORKERS, GETTING MAIL AT 4:55PM IN THE EVENING. FIRST THING IS DOWNSIZE, ALL THIS MODERN TECHNOLOGY SPEEDING UP THE MAIL TO A BOTTLE NECK. TIME TO UNCLOG THE BOTTLE NECK AND GET RID OF SOME AND MULTI-TASK THE LEFT-OVERS. JOB PERFORMANCE GOES DOWN, FIRE THAT PERSON AND HIRE SOMEONE WHO IS BETTER QUALIFIED.

  5. charles says:

    The postal system is like all local, state and federal job sites over staffed. Think of the amount of fuel would be saved if they stopped Saturday delivery. Go to any Post office and you will see people standing around doing nothing. Cut the fat and eliminate the very small branches. Do anything that is necessary to control the spending.

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