USPS definitely killing that plan to end Saturday delivery

posted at 2:41 pm on April 10, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

With the realities of technology and competition slowly but surely rendering much of their ‘business model’ obsolete, the U.S. Postal Service is on the strugglebus. The ‘self-supporting’ government enterprise managed to run up a deficit of $16 billion in 2012 alone, prompting them to once again look for ways in which they might be able to cut costs and raise more money. Some ideas have been better than others, but at least one tiny savings device came in the form of ending Saturday deliveries, a plan they estimated could have saved them about $2 billion annually and hoped to implement before the end of this summer. It wouldn’t even come remotely close to substantively addressing the Postal Service’s systemic problems, but hey, it might have at least produced some savings rather than nothing — and they would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids in Congress.

The U.S. Postal Service on Wednesday said it will delay a cost-cutting plan to end Saturday mail delivery, following congressional action that blocked the effort. …

“By including restrictive language in the Continuing Resolution, Congress has prohibited implementation of a new national delivery schedule,” the agency said in a statement. “The board will follow the law and has directed the Postal Service to delay implementation of its new delivery schedule until legislation is passed that provides the Postal Service with the authority to implement a financially appropriate and responsible delivery schedule. The board believes that Congress has left it with no choice but to delay this implementation at this time.”

Perhaps one fear in the motivation-mix is that the implementation of the Saturday-delivery shutdown will make it look like the USPS is doing a lot to control costs, when really, it doesn’t amount to that much at all; in a similar but larger context, that feels like the way President Obama is once again using the idea in his budget, proposing a bunch of small-bore cuts that look pretty big and impactful to make it seem like the federal government is doing a lot to clamp down on deficit spending:

Even as it adds fuel to battles over taxes and Social Security, President Barack Obama’s budget will reprise lots of smaller bore proposals that have gone nowhere in a gridlocked Washington. …

Efforts for a “grand bargain” on the budget between Obama and Congress have proven elusive, however, and stand-alone attempts to advance the proposals – including cutting farm subsidies and overhauling the Postal Service – have bogged down as well. …

And legislation to stem losses by the Postal Service by allowing it to cut Saturday delivery and close facilities has to pass through a gantlet of unions and lawmakers worried of shuttering facilities in their districts and states.

But in the meantime, Postal Service reform continues to move slowly, while it’s the subject of entrenched special-interests status in the halls of Congress. Womp.


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