Postal Service Posts Record Losses, Is On The Verge Of Congress-Induced Bankruptcy

The United States Postal Service reported a $15.9 billion dollar loss for the 2012 fiscal year, calling into question the national mail service’s continued viability absent Congressional action. The loss was the largest in USPS history and roughly three times the previous year’s losses, prompting alarm from Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe:

We cannot sustain large losses indefinitely. Major defaults are unsettling..It’s critical that Congress do its part and pass comprehensive legislation before they adjourn this year to move the Postal Service further down the path toward financial health.

The Congressional action required to fix the service is exceedingly simple — all it has to do is fix a problem entirely of its own making. The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 requires the USPS to “prefund” retirement benefits for 75 years, something that a) is not required of any other federal agency or private corporation and b) forces the USPS to set aside vast quantities of money.

Without this mandate, the USPS would be self-sustaining. Postal workers have gone on hunger strikes to protest Congressional unwillingness to make this simple fix, a version of which passed the Senate but languished in the House.

Were the USPS to collapse, it would hit poor Americans the hardest.