The final financial straw was a 2006 law requiring the Postal Service to pre-fund retiree health benefits 75 years into the future at a cost of more than $5 billion a year. The aggressive payment schedule was based not on any actuarial analysis of what the true costs would be but on a formula devised for the entire federal government. And no other agency, private or public, is saddled with such a mandate.
Congress should make up its mind: Either it wants the Postal Service to be a government agency under its thumb, which would require federal subsidies, or it wants a self-sustaining operation, in which case it has to loosen its micromanaging grip.
A bill in the
The legislation would give the agency authority to provide new services, such as selling fishing licenses or acting as an identification-verification service for people who want to do online business with the federal government. It would be allowed to sell a wider range of retail items and to ship alcoholic beverages.
Postal officials could suspend Saturday mail service if, after a year, they find that efforts to raise revenue have not worked. They would also have somewhat more freedom to set rates, but there would be a regulatory mechanism for appealing increases to a federal board.