The following editorial appeared Thursday in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
The U.S. Postal Service, an independent agency that receives almost no taxpayer money for operation, is a 200-year-old institution still tethered to Congress by centuries-old shackles.
Partly because of that impediment, and our technologically advanced society, the Postal Service has been losing billions of dollars the past few years - $15.9 billion in the last fiscal year alone. This has happened even though it reduced staff, combined operations and cut hours in some underused post offices.
After months of imploring Congress - with little success - to approve cost-cutting measures, including closing thousands of postal stations, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe announced Wednesday that the USPS will stop Saturday letter delivery. Package deliveries, an area where the Postal Service has increased business, would continue six days a week, as would service to post office boxes.
The move is expected to save $2 billion annually. But it also conflicts with a 30-year mandate from Congress: Appropriations bills routinely call for six-day delivery.
Donahoe says he has authority to move forward on the change, which would take effect in August, because Congress hasn't approved an appropriations bill and the government is operating under a continuing resolution (a temporary spending rule).
While many in Congress understand the situation, they've found it difficult to consider changes to an institution that their constituents often see as a vital service. But if the agency is to remain vital, Congress must let it be a viable business.