According to the Associated Press, the US Postal Service will end Saturday letter delivery beginning in August of this year but will continue to deliver packages six days a week. The point of this cutback is to save approximately $2 billion in operating costs.
Rather than view this service cut in a negative light, the USPS hopes to put the most positive spin on this move by emphasizing its continuation of package delivery which, in fact, has increased by 14 percent since 2010, according to Postal Service officials. On the other hand, the delivery of letters and other mail has declined over the same period mainly because of the increasing use of email and other Internet use.
If the plan is approved, all mail would still be delivered to post office boxes on Saturdays, and post offices which are currently open on Saturdays would remain open on Saturdays.
This, of course, is not the first time the USPS has attempted to eliminate Saturday delivery of first-class letters. For years, the Postal Service has argued for the shift to a five-day delivery schedule for both mail and packages but has been unable to gain the necessary congressional approval. Because the Postal Service is considered to be an independent agency, it receives absolutely no tax dollars for its day-to-day operations but is still subject to congressional control.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Postal Service has not yet made it clear just exactly how it will cease Saturday mail without congressional approval.
Yet it believes that t has the support of a majority of the American public for this change. That is, in a press conference, Patrick R. Donahoe, postmaster general and CEO, says the USPS's own and other research shows that nearly 7 in 10 Americans support the switch to five-day delivery as a way for the Postal Service to reduce costs.
Article I, Section 8, Clause 7 of the United States Constitution, known as the Postal Clause or the Postal Power, empowers Congress "To establish Post Offices and post Roads."
So what's really going on here? Why is the only constitutionally mandated “business” in such dire straits? Traditionally, and from its inception, the Post Office has been one of the most reliable services, if not the most reliable, that the federal government has provided.
In 1971, the United States Post Office became the United States Postal Service under the Postal Reorganization Act.
The USPS employs more than 574,000 workers and operates over 260,000 vehicles. It operates the largest vehicle fleet in the world. The USPS is legally obligated to serve all Americans, regardless of geography, at uniform price and quality. The USPS has exclusive access to letter boxes marked "US Mail" and personal letterboxes in the United States, but still competes against private package delivery services, such as UPS and FedEx.
As stated above, the USPS has not directly received taxpayer-dollars since the early 1980s with the minor exception of subsidies for costs associated with the disabled and overseas voters.
In 2006, Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act," which required that $5.5 billion per year to be paid into an account to pre-fund retiree health-care, 75 years into the future. This requirement is unique among all government agencies. Predictably, as a result of this provision, USPS revenues dropped precipitously due to the toxic combination of the ongoing recession and declining paper mail volume due to the growth of electronic mail.
It is this requirement that has almost single-handedly destroyed the USPS (Post Office). It was enacted because Republicans in Congress viewed the success of the Postal Service as a threat to their creed and ideology that the “guvmint” cannot do anything right. Its success storyof more than 200 years was and contradicts and belies their "small goverment is the best government" mantra, leading to ideological embarrassment. Thus, it is no accident that the USPS's $5 billion-plus deficit almost perfectly matches the annual $5.5 billion that it must put aside for retires in the year 2081.