- Last Updated: 12:04 AM, May 14, 2012
- Posted: May 14, 2012
The US Postal Service is so mired in debt that nothing can save it from going bust — but the Senate is trying to dump a $33.7 billion bailout in its lap anyway.
Against the Postal Service’s wishes.
Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe did something brave last year: He tried to bring USPS into the age of instant electronic communcations by closing down 3,700 barely used rural post offices, ending Saturday mail delivery and shedding tens of thousands of obsolete jobs.
The goal was to rescue the Postal Service from the crushing burden of employee pensions and benefits that will leave it with $14.1 billion in losses this year alone.
First, he needed congressional approval.
Quoth the Congress: Hahahahahaha.
Instead of cutting spending, the Senate voted to keep Saturday service alive for at least two years and spend another $34 billion over the next decade to prop up USPS — including $11 billion in cash in 2012.
Donahoe had no way around it, so he announced a deal Wednesday to shorten hours at the post offices that he’d prefer to close. Which will hardly save a dime.
Even if the plan is approved by the House as well, the Senate cop-out will only be fully in effect by September 2014 — and would then save about $500 million a year.
Sound like a lot of money? USPS loses $25 million a day — so the Senate’s “savings” will only cover 20 days of red ink.
Congress either has to get Americans to buy 31 billion extra stamps every year — not gonna happen — or face the fact that the traditional Postal Service is obsolete.
This has nothing to do with hours, locations or the cost of stamps: The real culprit is e-mail, which is fast, free and has mostly replaced letter-writing.
There’s a vexing irony in having US senators — who have the franking privilege and can send mail everywhere for free — throwing a wrench in the Postal Service’s desperate attempts to come to terms with its present circumstances.
Donahoe’s plan is tough but necessary. Congress needs to get out of the way.Follow @NYPostOpinion