In an effort to stave off what appears to be its impending demise for a few more years, the United States Postal Service (USPS) announced that it will drop Saturday mail delivery service in August 2013. The financially struggling federal mail service has already closed some post offices around the country, cut back operations at thousands of others, and has long discussed trimming delivery to fewer days per week. Declaring in a February 5 press conference that “our financial condition is urgent,”Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe predicted the move will save the floundering agency some $2 billion annually. “We are simply not in a financial position where we can continue to make six-day letter delivery,” said Donahoe.
Under the cutback, the USPS will continue to deliver packages six days a week, and post offices will continue to be open on Saturdays, with mail still delivered to post office boxes.
While the USPS receives no tax funding for its day-to-day operation, it remains under the control of Congress, which has steadfastly blocked proposals to cut postal delivery to five days. As in the past, Congress included a ban on five-day delivery in its latest appropriations bill, but “because the federal government is now operating under a temporary spending measure, rather than an appropriations bill, Donahoe says it's the agency's interpretation that it can make the change itself,” reported the Associated Press.
The AP noted that in November the postal service “reported an annual loss of a record $15.9 billion for the last budget year and forecast more red ink in 2013, capping a tumultuous year in which it was forced to default on billions in retiree health benefit prepayments to avert bankruptcy.”
According to USA Today, the health payments “are a requirement imposed by Congress in 2006 that the post office set aside $55 billion in an account to cover future medical costs for retirees. The idea was to put $5.5 billion a year into the account for 10 years. That's $5.5 billion the post office doesn't have.”
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