The U-S Postal Service has proposed a cost-saving measure that would abolish next-day delivery for first-class mail.
That means things like birthday cards and bill payments.
The USPS proposes to close over half of its 500 mail-processing centers next year, meaning mail will have to travel farther from the post office to a processing center. As a result, first-class mail will no longer be delivered the next day, even within a community; it will take two to three days, maybe more. Delivery of periodicals will take longer, between two and nine days.
The Postal Service says it also needs to have some 28,000 fewer postal workers by the end of 2012.
The moves are part of an overhaul by the Postal Service to save $3 billion. The USPS has racked up $5.1 billion in debt this year, and needs to pay $5.5 billion to its health-care retirement fund by Dec 18.
This is one area of postal operation that doesn’t require Congressional approval. The changes will take effect in the spring.
Somewhere online, a reader commented, “I am contacting my congressmen to ask them to introduce and pass a law that states that bills that are due…credit card, utility, etc….will be considered paid as of the date they’re postmarked and NOT when they’re received by the banks, etc.”
I get it, but that reader should consider writing his or her congressman to pass something else: HR 1351.
The Postal Service gets a bad rap as a big money waster, and you also hear that the digital delivery of information hasn’t helped, but the biggest reason for its financial problems is a law called the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA). Under PAEA, the USPS was forced to pay for their pension system 75 years in advance and set that system up within 10 years. In other words, it had to put aside billions of dollars to pay for the health and pension benefits of employees it hasn’t even hired yet. In fact, they haven’t even been born yet. (Not to mention it sounds suspiciously like Congress ordering an agency to provide universal health care.) No other organization, private or government, is required to do that. Consumer advocate Ralph Nader argues that if PAEA had never been enacted, the postal service would actually be facing a $1.5 billion surplus today. Sure seems like a possibility.
So who passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act? A GOP-led Congress at the end of 2006, sponsored by then Virginia Rep Tom Davis. Davis left Congress in 2008 and appears to be gunning for a seat in the Virginia statehouse. I didn’t check, but it might be interesting to see which lobbyists and special interest groups poured money into his campaign coffers over his seven terms as a Congressman. Why else would anyone sponsor such draconian mandates if it didn’t benefit someone, somewhere?
HR 1351 is a bipartisan piece of legislation that would undo the PAEA pension payment requirements now burdening the Postal Service. It has 193 co-sponsors and is somewhere in the Congressional pipeline, but it’s unknown if House leaders will clear a path for debate and a vote. If members of Congress insist that we want less government in our lives and in the lives of our business community, it would be interesting to hear why anyone in Congress would defend the burden government has placed on the Postal Service. We deserve at least that much if they’re not going to move the bill forward.