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The manufactured crisis weakening the postal service continues to do its work. In fact, the postal service is estimating that it will run out of cash in October. Typical congressional dysfunction is slowing bills that would worsen the service's problems and ones that would help it alike:
It wants to end Saturday mail delivery, close hundreds of letter-sorting facilities and thousands of post offices, and has said it would consider breaking union contracts to fire protected employees. The plan would let it set up an independent health plan, more easily raise rates, and enter new businesses, such as delivering wine and liquor.

The Senate, on a 62-37 vote, passed a measure last April that would have authorized the Postal Service to provide non- postal products and services, revise benefit payment obligations, and offer retirement incentives. The bill, however, would have made it more difficult to quickly close facilities and delayed for at least two years any move to deliver mail five days a week instead of six.

The House didn’t take up that measure. It never scheduled a floor vote on its own postal overhaul bill, which would have created an independent commission to oversee closings, modeled on the Defense Department process for shutting military bases.

Raising rates is a clear step to take—postal rates in the U.S. are lower than in many other countries—as is allowing the postal service to expand its services to wine and liquor, for starters—other proposals have included post offices having notary publics, handling hunting and fishing licenses, offering copying services, and more. Ending Saturday delivery and slowing first-class mail delivery, on the other hand, would end up cutting revenues as people turned to other delivery services (even more expensive ones) when they were in a hurry. But then, pushing business to private companies, and preventing the postal service from competing effectively with private companies, has been the plan all along.

Congress has been getting in the way of the postal service for years, and it's going to take years to fix the damage. But the postal service isn't just another business, and shouldn't be treated as one; it's a part of our government, a guarantee that we're all linked to the rest of the country. It's time to quit treating the manufactured crisis as an inevitable force of nature and let the postal service expand its services and innovate.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 06:54 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

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