US Postal Service Could Default


If the most famous aphorism in Washington — that all politics is local — is true, then the neighborhood post office is about as political as it gets. And it’s been that way for a long time.

“Politics have been tied in with the postal service from the very beginning,” said Nancy Pope, a historian at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum.

Perhaps that’s why, barely a month after the bitterly partisan, scorched-earth debt ceiling/deficit fight, Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill vow bipartisan cooperation to keep the perpetually strapped U.S. Postal Service — already considering closing 3,300 offices to offset billions it expects to lose this year and next — from sinking in a sea of red ink.

The USPS, which has lost an average of roughly $7.5 billion a year for the past two years, is maxed out on its $12 billion line of credit with the Treasury Department and could default on a $5.5 billion payment it must make to a retiree health benefits fund by month’s end. That’s on top of the estimated $7 billion to $8 billion the USPS is projected to lose this year.

There’s no doubt that Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, postal workers unions and lawmakers consider the situation a full-blown fiscal crisis; the website for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), has a clock ticking down the days and hours until the Postal Service runs out of money.

Yet given the stakes for lawmakers and the public, the prospect of financial doomsday seems unlikely.

The Postal Service is “almost as old as the country,” said Frederic Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, who believes lawmakers and Donahoe will find an answer.



  1. Simple solution. Charge the same rate for junk mail as for first class. The only exception shoud be charities and religious institutions.
    personally, I am tired of getting 15-20 offer a week asking me to re-finance my house, car, children etc.
    Also, I am pre-approved for more credit cards than I can ever use.
    Castalogues should be a request only item. I usually order from one or two mail order firms but all the others feel it is their sacred duty to bombard me with monthly catalogues.