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posted: 2/15/2013 4:40 AM

Congress, the Postal Service's savior?

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Congress, the Postal Service's savior?

The Postmaster General, in recently announcing the end, by August, of Saturday delivery, is getting ahead of himself. Only Congress can decide that issue. What the Postmaster is attempting to do is plant the impression in the public mind that the end of Saturday delivery is inevitable -- indeed, that it is a done deal. This is not so.

Postal management is correct in thinking that eliminating Saturday delivery would save the U.S. Postal Service $2 billion a year. What it does not, and dares not, mention is that the action would also diminish the service's competitiveness. In any case, it is management's prerogative to cut costs where it sees fit.

But when the Postmaster says that preserving Saturday delivery imposes an "undue burden" on the taxpayer, he is being disingenuous. Not a dime in taxes goes to support the Postal Service, which pays for its operations entirely from its own revenues.

In 2006, a lame-duck Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, a bill which obliged the Postal Service, alone among all government and corporate entities, to pre-fund its retiree health benefits 75 years into the future. This bill forced the Postal Service to transfer, annually, $5 billion of its own money to the U.S. Treasury. Sometime in 2012, the money ran out, and the Postal Service defaulted on its obligations -- its onerous, ill-conceived, and ruinous obligations.

The only "loans" which the Post Office currently receives from taxpayers are those same sums of money that had been confiscated from it since 2007. Only Congress, the same body which set the Postal Service on its course of insolvency, can "rescue" it, by rescinding its own mandates. Congress, an institution which bankrupts everything it touches, may be the Post Office's savior. What an ironic God we serve.

Alexander Lee

West Chicago

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