The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

February 8, 2013

Legislators need to get all in or all out

Daily Item

---- — Here are some tidbits about the United States Postal Service, which explain why the organization is in financial straits:

Technically the USPS is an independent agency, despite the fact that it is the "United States" Postal Service. Because of that, the USPS does not receive taxpayer money to fund its services. The problem with that system is the Postal Service, because it is established by the Constitution, has to follow rules set forth by Congress.

Legislators get to dictate how we send and receive mail, but they do not have to pay for it.

The USPS operates like a business, using revenue from postage to balance the books as best as it can. But it has to obey Congress, which everyone knows cannot balance books.

Obviously it is a system that has failed. The Postal Service has been hemorrhaging money at a record rate -- nearly $16 billion in the last fiscal year -- even though it has been cutting services, employees and hours in smaller post offices around the nation for years.

Wednesday USPS said it will cut Saturday delivery — a move expected to save $2 billion each year.

That seems to make some sense. Post offices will remain open on Saturdays and will still deliver packages, which is one of the USPS' most lucrative revenue streams.

This has some in Congress posturing for the home crowd. Missouri Republican Representative Sam Graves said "reducing core services is not a long-term plan."

What long-term plan? There has never been a long-term plan and the Postal Service has suffered because of it. For the most part the USPS does a good job. We all rely on this service and pretty much appreciate our carriers.

It remains one of the few constants in our lives. You can drive down the street at the same time every day and see your postal carrier on the same block whether it's Monday or Friday.

The USPS has been down this road before and found a way to adapt. Postal customers -- pretty much all of us -- deserve better information about what to expect.

Bluster and bloviating won't do the trick. Once the tantrum passes, the federal government needs to get all in or all out of the business.

In order to sustain core services, authority and accountability need to be on the same page. Until that is resolved, the postal service remains in jeopardy.