COMMENTARY | Last month, the U.S. Postal Service stated that it wanted to switch to a five-day week for first class mail, magazines and direct mail. The plan would save $2 billion a year, which isn’t much considering that it lost $16 billion last year. But it is something. According to Reuters though, Congress opted this week to force the Postal Service to continue its six-day delivery. I want to know what bright ideas Congress has, if any, to make the Postal Service solvent.
Polls showed the majority of the public was in favor of five-day delivery as a way for the service to save money. I think most of the public understands: If you’re taking on water, you’d better grab a bucket. Congress apparently doesn’t get that, though. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate voted to approve legislation that maintains a provision that states that the Postal Service cannot reduce its delivery service.
Now the Postal Service is looking for ways to get around the legislation. It had never planned to completely stop delivering items on Saturday, as it stated that package delivery would still be available. Some lawmakers have pointed out that the provision requiring six-day service is vague and doesn’t prohibit the service from altering the specific products that it delivers on Saturdays. The sad point to this, though, is that the Postal Service shouldn’t have to be trying to weasel around congressional provisions that prohibit it from trying to be solvent. Congress should be open to the Postal Service’s suggestions and should be actively trying to help the service succeed, not wielding its power to the detriment of the service and all those who use it — which is pretty much all of us.
Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., said that the Postmaster General is stonewalling members of Congress by “withholding his legal justifications for eliminating Saturday delivery.” I think the justifications for withholding the Saturday delivery are pretty clear though. The Postal Service is sinking. We all know that. So what’s Congress’ suggestion? Kick the issue down the curb so that it can be dealt with again in the next term and they don’t have to worry about whether their constituents might be angry with them for actually doing something? Ignore the shortfall and hope it goes away just like they’re doing with their own?
I suggest Connolly and the others grab a bucket and start bailing. Or at the very least, get out of the way so that someone who understands the basics of budgeting and finances can do it.