Mike Rapp’s April 18 reminder of delayed service at mail-processing centers is a hint of things to come in the U.S. Postal Service, which has enjoyed widespread trust for its reliable service. The crux of this problem is the draconian Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, passed by Congress in 2006, that requires USPS to pay employee benefits for the next 75 years in 10 years, costing $5 billion a year in income.
To compensate for this loss, USPS proposes: closing one-half its mail processing centers, reducing office hours in one-half the post offices, ending Saturday delivery, contracting with Staples to maintain (profitable) mail kiosks, and placing 3,700 post offices (mostly in rural areas, where the post office is the center of the community) under review for closure. These measures would eliminate approximately one-third of postal jobs.
Congress could make up for the punishing burden placed on the USPS by facilitating what post offices in New Zealand, Brazil, India and China do, and the USPS inspector general estimates would generate $9 billion annually for USPS: making small, low-interest loans to local residents. This creative action can only occur if Congress has the backbone to stand up to the banking industry.