This editorial appeared in The Miami Herald.
The U.S. Postal Service has been on a cost-cutting mission since 2002, but it still ends up each fiscal year with a budget deficit. In 2008, the deficit was $2.8 billion. That may grow to $6 billion or more this year, since the federal Postal Service is no more immune to the current economic meltdown than businesses in the private sector.
Americans take their mail service for granted, and by and large they get decent service. But the agency has to adapt to hard new realities if it is to remain a viable service. To that end, Postmaster General John E. Potter has asked Congress to lift the rule requiring six-day mail delivery, to give the agency the flexibility to drop delivery one day a week to save money.
Proposing to reduce mail delivery by one day always stirs a debate. In the past, Saturday has most often been considered, although that is changing today. Five-day delivery would be a big step for the Postal Service. Nevertheless, Congress should oblige Mr. Potter and refrain from mandating the traditional six-day delivery in the agency's next appropriations bill. A reduction in mail delivery wouldn't come overnight, or perhaps at all. But the Postal Service has to do something to stay afloat, and it needs every tool that is available in order to succeed.
The agency is trying to adapt to the huge changes in how people communicate today. Fewer people use the U.S. mail to pay bills, stay in touch with family and friends or to send packages. You could say the Internet has severely undermined traditional mail delivery, as it has other private-sector industries.
To read the complete editorial, visit The Miami Herald.