Inquirer Editorial: Make Postal Service a priority

ANDREW HARRER / Bloomberg
ANDREW HARRER / Bloomberg
Posted: September 17, 2012

After a five-week vacation, anybody heading back to the office might want to take things a little slowly.

But Congress can't take too long to get back to business - and the U.S. Postal Service, now losing $25 million a day, certainly can't afford dawdling by the lawmakers in considering its plight.

The crisis at the Postal Service is as real as it gets. Over the summer, the agency had its first default on a $5.5 billion payment for health-care costs. Soon, another $5.6 billion payment will be due to cover pension obligations for 547,000 postal workers.

Meanwhile, reforms that might make it possible for the Postal Service to recover from the loss of many first-class mail customers to e-mail and other competitors have been hung up on Capitol Hill while Congress was in recess.

Senators stepped up in April, doing the right thing by passing a reform package that would save next-day delivery for letters within regions and maintain Saturday service for two years.

In the Republican-controlled House, however, no progress has been made toward reconciling its more austere view, which includes a base-closing-style commission to downsize postal facilities, end Saturday deliveries, and offer buyouts to some mail handlers.

The only certainty is that the nation's mail service is too valuable to risk failure under an outdated financial model. Any further delay in the overhaul needed to stave off collapse would be unconscionable - especially since Congress is so well rested.

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