A holiday season without the Postal Service? Senator Tom Carper of Delaware raised that possibility as he chaired a hearing on the post office’s financial issues.
Carper heads a Senate subcommittee that has jurisdiction over the Postal Service. He cited dismal budget numbers in fiscal 2010: a record loss of $8.5 billion, and further projected losses which could exhaust an entire $15 billion line of credit with the Treasury.
“In practical teams, this could mean that, during next year’s holiday shopping and mailing season, the Postal Service may not have the resources necessary to open its doors,” Carper said.
Much of the Postal Service’s losses can be attributed to heavy retiree health care pre-payments. However, Carper also noted the increasing competition for services facing the post office: speedy delivery services, e-mail, electronic bill payments, and “other advances in communication and commerce.”
Carper introduced the POST Act, or Postal Operations Sustainment and Transformation Act, in September. It is designed to address health and pension costs, developing partnerships with state and local governments, and giving the Postal Service more leeway on such issues as whether to maintain Saturday delivery and closing underutilized post offices.