Many Americans woke up today and were shocked by news that the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) will be ending regular mail service on Saturdays (package delivery will continue). In response to this announcement, the National Association of Letter Carriers, which represents postal employees, called on Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe to resign.
The move is supposed to save the Post Office $2 billion annually, something it claims it is being forced to do due to budget woes.
But the truth is, the Post Office’s budget wouldn’t have any problems if Congress hadn’t forced an unnecessary and burdensome federal mandate onto it.
In 2006, the Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA). Under PAEA, USPS was forced to “prefund its future health care benefit payments to retirees for the next 75 years in an astonishing ten-year time span” — meaning that it had to put aside billions of dollars to pay for the health benefits of employees it hasn’t even hired yet, something “that no other government or private corporation is required to do.”
In 2011, it was estimated that the Post Office would actually have a $1.5 billion surplus if PAEA was never enacted. Altering or repealing this poison pill legislation would allow the Postal Service to continue its services without being burdened by the 75 year pre-fund requirement. But that requires Congress to act.
UPDATE: As a historical anecdote as to how far back the conservative war on the Post Office goes, experts point out that the service delivered mail twice a day until 1950.