The following editorial appeared Wednesday in the Washington Post:
Nearly two months ago, Patrick R. Donahoe, the postmaster general, announced that the U.S. Postal Service would stop Saturday mail delivery in August. At the time, we expressed the hope that Congress would take that cue to address the structural problems that necessitated the decision.
Alas, it appears that lawmakers are bound and determined to do the opposite. Instead of supporting Donahoe's plan and providing USPS management with the tools to implement further savings, they are obstructing him.
The Republican-dominated House of Representatives has adopted a bill to fund the government for the rest of fiscal year 2013 that includes language historically interpreted to require six-day mail delivery. The Democratic-majority Senate did the same Thursday. This, despite the fact that the Postal Service is losing $25 million per day and has maxed out its $15 billion line of credit with the U.S. Treasury.
The USPS says ending Saturday delivery will cut its losses, projected to reach $7.9 billion this year, by up to $2 billion. Polls show that most Americans are willing to give up Saturday delivery rather than add to the risk of an expensive postal bailout later on.
In the digital age, fewer and fewer people actually depend on mail; many regard USPS-delivered ads as a nuisance.
Congress is ignoring public sentiment and postal management's abundantly documented cost concerns in favor of postal unions, corporate mailers and other groups that cling to the outmoded postal business model, regardless of the potential cost to taxpayers.
The fact is that ending Saturday delivery is only a small part of the change the USPS needs to survive in the post-paper world. Yet seemingly even that is too much for a Congress wedded to the status quo and the special interests that benefit from it.