The Feb. 13 editorial “Delivering the mail,” on U.S. Postal Service finances, left out data showing rapidly improving conditions. At this point, the red ink stems entirely from political interference: the 2006 congressional mandate that the postal service prefund future retiree health benefits (at $5.6 billion annually), something no other entity is required to do.
The operating side has shown a dramatic turnaround. Two years ago, exclusive of prefunding, the postal service had red ink of $4.8 billion. Last year, the same calculation yielded a $623 million profit. And the recent first-quarter results showed $1.1 billion of black ink — for an agency that earns its revenue by selling stamps, not from taxpayers.
These figures reflect trends that augur well. An improving economy has helped stabilize mail revenue, down last year by just half a percent. This year, the postal service forecasts the first rise in years. Meanwhile, as online shopping expands, package delivery revenue is skyrocketing: up 8 percent last year and 14 percent in 2014’s first quarter. This makes the Internet a net positive.
The unnecessary service reductions The Post advocated would hurt millions of Americans and small businesses and stop the postal turnaround in its tracks by driving mail — and revenue — away. Instead, lawmakers should strengthen the now-profitable networks while fixing the prefunding fiasco.
Fredric Rolando, Washington
The writer is president of the National Association of Letter Carriers.
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