Uh-oh, the U.S. Postal Service is doing a little better


Financially, the U.S. Postal Service has been performing a bit better than expected lately. Politically, that could be bad news for the mail carrier.

Why? Because USPS leaders have banked on a sense of crisis to rouse Congress to agree to some heavy-duty service cuts. The faintest glimmer of hope may be all it takes to persuade lawmakers to let the Postal Service instead muddle through until after the November elections–if not longer.

“Congress is never going to really do something final until it knows the clock has run out, the money has run out, it’s got no choice,” said Gene Del Polito, president of the Association for Postal Commerce.

That wasn’t quite the message Postmaster General Pat Donahoe conveyed this past weekend in an appearance on the C-Span cable TV show, “Newsmakers.” True, Donahoe hammered home the importance of immediate legislative action to fix the USPS’ crumbling finances. But he acknowledged that revenues are running slightly ahead of projections, while continued cost-cutting is also helping the bottom line. As a result, the Postal Service’s cash-flow situation “is OK through the fall and into probably late next year,” he said.

Yowza! So what’s everyone so worried about?

Of course, that’s assuming the Postal Service skips about $11 billion in legally required payments into a retiree health care fund due by the end of September. But lawmakers will probably be happy to push back those deadlines indefinitely. And even though the Senate last month passed postal overhaul legislation at the (for the Senate) warp speed of two days,  the measure got a ice-cold reception from House leaders, who have nonetheless not moved ahead with their own, very different, bill.

Senators are meanwhile intent on dissuading the Postal Service from proceeding with any post office or mail processing plant closures after a self-imposed moratorium expires May 15. On that score, Donahoe didn’t back down, but he also said the 15th was never intended to be a “shutdown date.”  “Any changes that we make will be incremental over the course of the summer,” he said. After August, the Postal Service plans on another breather–this one for the elections–until year’s end.

The USPS Board of Governors holds a public meeting tomorrow morning; expect there to be some discussion of what happens next. Surprisingly, the Postal Service’s second-quarter financial results–covering the period from January through March–aren’t on the agenda. Those figures aren’t due out until next Thursday, May 10.





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  1. If the western area district manager can fly into Las Vegas for a two hour meeting that could have been conducted on the Web or phone… then they are not serious about cutting costs.

    Leadership in the USPS still have an entitlement attitude.

  2. Coley McDonough on

    Lies,all lies,everyone on this job lies to each other,with straight faces,it’s amazing.The waste and useless data compilation boggles the mind,if we were not inured to the USPS way of not doing things.

  3. twinkster@west market on

    What is with McCain and his croonies? I can’t believe he has so much distain for the working class. It really amazes me that here we have a war vet who is spearheading the killing of jobs that are primarily for veterans. What happens when you have all these new vets coming home from the war in Afganistan? we know that our economy sucks already. Maybe that’s why Obama chose to stay in afganistan until 2024, no jobs here in the U.S. for anyone

  4. robert catanese on

    after watching cspan i could not believe how anti worker the republican party is forced retirement , abolish collective bargining it made me sick nowwith this report and the one that donahue tried to hide about the $5billion that will be lost with the closures should make things interesting

  5. i guess McCain did not get any mail or packages when he was involved with the vietnam war,or he had ups or fed ex deliver his.how easy one forgets….

  6. Andre Leonard on

    Who wrote this article, it sounds like a fairy tale. But even if there were a spike of efficiencies, it still would not change the fact that the USPS is headed the way of the Pony Express.

    Take consolation that Congress has been taking two years just to talk about changes, which is normal. This will coincide with there election cycle, so any real opportunity for me to slow down the pace of all the junk mail I receive will probably be another two years away.

  7. Wesley x-dc on

    Congress is being duped. Its time to get serious and take USPS back into the bowels of the federal agencies now being administered. How can USPS threaten, stomp their feet and cry like little female hormonal cry-babies and lie to the American public the way they do. USPS painted the worse picture they could on several fronts – retirement, health benefits and bankrupt and folks have fell for it.
    Congress has Franking Rights. Simply put, free mailing of their propaganda. All members of Congress should have their budgets tapped for any mail sent. Not one member of Congress knows what is happening to the Postal Service beyond what USPS is telling them, There is no over-site. Dont the elected idiots get it ? USPS has too many local offices in cities — you have to cut back on their offices too close together— that wont stop deliveries but will reduce office staff. Next do a honest and fair route review. Look at the amount of OT. Get OMB or some agency to do an honest assessment of USPS budget, assets and liabilities. Folks the OIG wont cut it.
    Demand all Upper Management jobs be put on the line by requiring letter of resignations based on accountability for a 18 mos review. Reduce the VPs along with PMG Donahoe salaries by 50% based on performance to turn USPS around. Do not allow any buyouts – do RIFs that will reduce the complement. You cant force the older-sters out but sure in the hell can move them to other localities. BTW look at what USPS is outsourcing and how effective that is. All this wont matter as USPS can and will increase the complement in 2 years. Last, you gotta be getting with a proposal for an Innovation Officer — its too late for that.

  8. When they want to get serious about eliminating waste, the PG will cut about half of the USPS 34 VP’s. They will downgrade 60% of the Postmasters to clerks. They will demand that all OT be accounted for by supervision. They will institute mandatory retirement after 30 years service. They will make serious recommendations about consolidating local PO’s and adjust routes efficiently. Until the American public hears common sense approaches to savings like these, the USPS will continue to sound like pompus windbags or worse, crooks.

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