Thursday, September 20, 2012 | Latest audio lessons → VOA Learning English
US Postal Service Wants Congress to Make Changes to Its Business Model
The United States Postal Service has reported a loss of over $5 billion from April to June. The Postal Service says it expects to report a loss of $15 billion for the 12-month period ending in September. And it has warned of even bigger losses if Congress does not let mail service change the way it does business.
The United States Postal Service, or USPS, has a history as long as the nation's own. Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first Postmaster General, or head of the Postal Service, in 1775. But the Postal Service says its income has not kept up with growing costs. For example, profitable first class mail is decreasing. The service says most of its recent losses resulted from making payments to its health care program for retirees. About a billion dollars of the loss was for payments to injured workers.
The news from April to June was not all bad. Improvements in the economy fueled income growth of nine percent from shipping and delivery. The Postal Service says it is less costly to send letters and packages in the mail than to use private companies.
The USPS says it has cut operating costs by a total of $14 billion in the past five years. To improve its financial health, the agency has proposed cutting service on Saturdays. It wants Congress to cancel a requirement that the Postal Service make payments to its health care program for retired workers.
USPS also wants the Treasury Department to return $11 billion in payments made to its pension plan for retirees. On August first, USPS failed to make a required payment of $5.5 billion for health care benefits for future retirees. It was the first time the Postal Service has ever failed to make such a payment. And, the service is warning that it may have to delay making payments to companies to which it owes money.
The Postal Service says that without major changes, it will continue to lose billions of dollars a year. The Washington Post newspaper reported that Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe told reporters "Congress needs to act responsibly." In his words, "this is no way to run any kind of business." The Postal Service receives income for its operations from the sale of stamps, products and shipping services. It does not receive direct government assistance, but is controlled by the federal government.
For VOA Learning English, I'm Laurel Bowman. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 31Aug2012)