WILMINGTON, DE – If Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) is to be believed, he knows how to save the U.S. Postal Service about $500 million each year. $500 million is nothing to sneeze at, but according to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe states that $22.5 BILLION must be cut from the postal budget each year by 2016. The USPS has already defaulted on a $5.2 billion payment to the federal government (for retiree health care benefits) and is expected to default on another payment later this year.
Can the post office be fixed? Of course … in theory. Unfortunately, we live in the real world. Members of Congress, Democrat and Republican (but primarily Democrat) will simply not allow that to happen. No legislator wants to see a post office, much less something like a processing facility, close in their district or state. Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) are prime examples. If you buy-in to their rhetoric, closing the Easton processing facility is akin to Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon. Truth be told, Mikulski and Cardin would prefer a nuclear Iran over seeing a postal processing facility close in their own state. To them, and many of their Congressional colleagues, the USPS is one more way to use YOUR tax dollars to buy other people’s votes.
USPS revenue remains a huge problem. There is no doubt that the internet has put a huge dent into the USPS’s revenue stream. Almost every bill you receive in the mail includes some encouragement or incentive to pay your bill online and sign up for “paperless billing”. Why buy and mail a birthday card when you can send an “e-card” in less than two minutes, and often for free? Businesses, and individuals, don’t bat an eye at paying a sizable premium to FedEx or UPS to send parcels or time sensitive documents because they know that they will be delivered on time. The USPS can’t seem to deliver an overnight document on time.
Allowing the USPS to exit onerous union contracts, become more efficient, and pay wages and benefits comparable to their competitors will help; so will shutting down facilities. Unfortunately, the men and women we send to Washington simply won’t allow this to happen.