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Postal Service bailout a flawed plan

Editorial

The average USPS employee makes $83,000 in salary and benefits annually, much more than most other federal employees.

Many post offices and branches that face closure provide very little revenue. In fact, 84 percent of the locations on the closure list take in less than $27,500 in annual revenue and have less than two hours of work a day, according to Dean Granholm, the Postal Service's delivery and operations vice president.

But, instead of allowing the Postal Service to save itself — and the taxpayer — from disaster, Washington is playing election-year politics and has proposed an $11 billion bailout that will keep the Postal Service limping along a few more years.

After that, if the Postal Service is not allowed to eliminate expenses it will need to return with its hand out again, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has said.

“It is totally inappropriate in these economic times to keep unneeded facilities open. There is simply not enough mail in our system today,” the Postal Service's board of governors said in a statement.

Nevertheless, the U.S. Senate passed a bailout bill in late April, with senators from both parties lining up in favor.

The bill would save Saturday delivery and rescue about half the mail processing centers the Postal Service wants to close, cutting the list from 252 to 125.

Not surprisingly, the processing centers that would survive are in states whose senators were sponsors of the postal bill — like Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Missouri and Vermont, according to a preliminary list obtained by The Associated Press.

Therein lies the problem.

This is not about “saving an iconic American institution that still delivers 500 million pieces of mail a day,” as bill co-sponsor Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut put it.

It is little more than an election-year gimmick to give senators the ability to stand at a podium in November, pounding their chests while telling voters through toothy grins that they stood against postal closures.

The bailout money is nothing more than a Band-Aid to get the Postal Service through the election cycle. Without real reform, it remains doomed to extinction.

The bill now goes to the House for consideration, with a May 15 deadline looming when postal officials have vowed to start making cuts.

Let’s hope the outcome will be a long-term plan to save America’s 200-year-old Postal Service, and not another spending binge at the expense of the American taxpayer in the interest of those seeking re-election.

Comments should be directed to denpubs@denpubs.com

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