News / USA

US Postal Service on 'Brink of Default'

US Postal Service mailboxes are seen awaiting disposal September 1, 2011, in San Jose, California.
US Postal Service mailboxes are seen awaiting disposal September 1, 2011, in San Jose, California.

Multimedia

Audio
Michael Bowman

One of America's oldest institutions, the U.S. Postal Service, is teetering on the edge of default and must be radically restructured. That, according to the postmaster general, who spoke on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

The mail service Americans have known for generations is losing billions of dollars a year, as handwritten communication has all but disappeared -  replaced by emails, text messages, and social-media -  and billing and other commercial transactions are increasingly conducted over the Internet.

The changing technological landscape has left the regular mail service, what many Americans now refer to as "snail mail," in dire financial straits. U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

"The Postal Service is at the brink of default," said Donahoe.  "Without the enactment of comprehensive legislation by September 30, the Postal Service will default on a mandated $5.5 billion payment to the Treasury to pre-fund retirement retiree health benefits. Our situation is urgent."

The Postal Service is seeking congressional authorization to cut costs and curtail services, including eliminating hundreds of thousands of postal jobs, changing health care and retirement programs for postal workers, consolidating post offices, and ending Saturday mail delivery across the country.

"The Postal Service requires radical changes to its business model if it to remain viable into the future," added Donahoe.  "The Postal Service is in a crisis today because it operates with a restricted business model. As a self-financing entity that depends on the sale of postage for its revenues, the Postal Service requires the ability to operate more as a business does."

Fighting the proposed changes is the American Postal Workers Union, whose president, Cliff Guffey, has blasted proposed changes as a "reckless assault on the Postal Service and its employees." He has also said that "crushing postal workers and slashing service will not solve the Postal Service's financial crisis."

But change is needed, according to the committee's chairman, Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.

"We must act quickly to prevent a Postal Service collapse, and enact a bold plan to secure its future," said Lieberman.  "The U.S. Postal Service is not an 18th Century relic. It is a great 21st Century national asset. But times are changing rapidly now, and so too must the Postal Service if it is to survive."

The U.S. Postal Service is a semi-autonomous federal entity, mandated by law to be revenue neutral. Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have put forth proposals to reform it and ensure its solvency.

Americans learn of the Postal Service from an early age. Every year before Christmas, it receives an avalanche of letters from youngsters addressed to Santa Claus. It remains the preferred means to send greeting cards, wedding invitations, and other personalized or formal communication, as well as magazines and other periodicals and printed advertisements. Despite reduced mail flow, the Postal Service continues to deliver more than half a billion pieces of mail a day.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid