The Postal Service is an American institution and must be preserved. Comprehensive postal reform legislation must address the issue of delivery frequency, and Congress should make such reform a priority. I am disappointed in today's announcement by Postmaster Patrick Donahoe regarding the loss of Saturday delivery. This cut in service will be particularly harmful to small businesses, rural communities, the elderly, the disabled and others who depend on Saturday delivery for commerce and communication.
Certainly the speed of the internet has put pressure on the Postal Service. But the answer to the problem of not being fast enough is not to get slower.
The agency's crisis is a direct result of an unsustainable congressional mandate imposed on the Postal Service by the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA). The federal law forces the Postal Service to pre-fund healthcare benefits for future retirees and to do so in a ten-year period. No other entity -- public or private -- bears this burden. Since the PAEA took effect in 2007, the Postal Service has been required to pre-pay approximately $5.5 billion per year. Yet the same law prohibits the Postal Service from raising postage rates to cover the cost.
The Postal Service has already slashed mail service by closing 13,000 post offices and drastically reducing hours of operation, shutting hundreds of mail processing facilities, and downgrading standards for mail delivery to America's homes and businesses. The effects have already been felt locally in Scranton and today's announcement will only place a greater burden on the 17th Congressional district.
The Postal Service has a mission that is bigger than making money. Our mail system is a vital part of the strength of our American infrastructure. In my view, we should not be allowing a culture of efficiency experts to downgrade parts of the pride of our great nation. Congress must take a holistic approach in passing comprehensive Postal Reform legislation addressing both the recent decline in mail volume as well as the strain placed on the Postal Service by the mandated PAEA.