August 9, 2012 — Today’s figures reflect the congressional role in the Postal Service’s red ink and the need for Congress to address the damage it has done. The USPS reported that $3.1 billion of the $5.2 billion loss resulted from the 2006 congressional mandate that the Postal Service – alone among all agencies and companies – pre-fund future retiree health benefits 75 years into the future. In the first three quarters of this fiscal year, that mandate accounts for $9.3 billion of the $11.7 billion in USPS red ink, or 80 percent.
Overall, since pre-funding went into effect in 2007, it accounts for 83 percent of the Postal Service’s losses. That means that only 17 percent of all the red ink stems from actual mail operations, including the decline in first-class mail.
The irony of Congress continuing to insist on pre-funding is that the Postal Service already has $45 billion in its future retiree health benefits fund, more than any company in America and enough for decades into the future.
The positive aspects to today’s USPS report are the continuing sharp rises in revenue from package deliveries associated with Internet orders and also in productivity. If Congress would step up and fix the pre-funding mess it created, then the Postal Service could focus on developing a business plan for the future that would meet the challenges of an evolving society while taking advantage of opportunities such as e-commerce. Degrading services and dismantling the universal network are not a business plan.