What to do about the Postal Service's woes?

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Saturday, March 6, 2010

In his Feb. 28 Outlook commentary, Postmaster General John E. Potter attempted to refute "five myths" about the U.S. Postal Service. The Postal Service is indeed in dire financial straits, but I disagree with his assertion that the 2006 Postal Reform Act is in part to blame for its financial crisis. As the author of this law, I want to set the record straight.

The Postal Service's request to Congress for relief from its obligation to prefund retiree health benefits is just the most recent in the history of the Postal Service's requests to Congress roughly every three years for financial assistance in exchange for the promise of becoming financially solvent. In 2003, 2006 and 2009, Congress relieved the Postal Service of making billions of dollars in payments toward its liabilities.

Now, after the Postal Service has been slow to take advantage of the increased flexibilities provided by the 2006 Postal Reform Act, the postmaster general once again has returned to Congress, seeking billions of dollars in relief from its liabilities and, again, making more promises of future profitability.

Instead of blaming the Postal Service's financial condition on the 2006 Postal Reform Act, the postmaster general should develop new revenue streams and continue to reduce costs. He should seek new customers and more volume rather than cutting service and wishing away liabilities.

Susan Collins, Washington

The writer, a Republican, is a U.S. senator from Maine.

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There's little to cheer about in the U.S. Postal Service's campaign to end Saturday service ["Postal Service might lose $238 billion over decade," news story, March 3], although many states must be relieved that Tuesday deliveries apparently will survive a proposed restructuring.

Oregon, which conducts elections by mail, enjoys a vital partnership with the Postal Service. Postal workers carried 2 million ballots in a recent statewide election, and the possibility of cutbacks is truly distressing.


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