U.S. Postal Service: 9 reasons why it's in trouble
By Ryan Teague Beckwith, Digital First Media
02/04/2013 10:40:14 AM PST
02/04/2013 01:53:36 PM PST
A U.S. Postal Service vehicle delivers mail during a light snowfall on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in Nassau, N.Y. The snow that began falling early Wednesday morning has made roads and highways slick, causing southbound traffic backups on the Adirondack Northway just north of Albany. The National Weather Service says much of eastern New York will get 1 to 3 inches of snow. (AP Photo/Mike Groll) (Mike Groll)
But many of its business decisions are made by Congress.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Though the Postal Service does not receive any federal money - it runs entirely on its own profits - it must get Congress' permission to change rates, reduce services or change its operations. It cannot ship beer and wine, like its private competitors, or offer services like local fishing licenses without congressional approval.
A law requiring pre-funding retirement benefits is a major cost.
Postal employee Chester Reed, 95, is hugged by a co-worker during his retirement celebration in 2010. (AP / Gabriel Luis Acosta)
The Internet has also dramatically changed its business.
(AP Photo/Oscar Hidalgo)
The rise of email and electronic bill-paying has cut the use of first-class mail, while catalogs and magazines have been replaced by websites. The volume of mail handled by the Postal Service dropped 22 percent between 2007 and 2011. On the bright side, more people are getting packages shipped because of e-commerce.
Restrictions on raising stamp prices also hurt revenue.
The Postal Service has a plan to address its financial problems.
Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe wants to reduce door-to-door service in favor of centralized neighborhood mailboxes, have the Postal Service run its own health care system, get some money back from the pre-funded retirement plan and phase out Saturday mail delivery except for packages.
And it's not clear what the new Congress wants to do either.
U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)
The Republican-controlled House and the Democratic Senate couldn't come to agreement last year on how to fix the Postal Service's problems. Some observers think that bigger issues like the deficit and immigration could lead lawmakers to punt on the issue and make only small fixes this year.
Here's an in-depth look at the problems from PBS NewsHour.
How Should U.S. Postal Service's Financial Problems Be Fixed?pbsnewshour