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Postal Service Forced To Make Cuts

Alex Wong, Getty Images

I can’t remember the last time I bought a stamp.

I pay all my bills on-line, send e-mail and text messages, and get nothing but junk mail in the mailbox at the end of my driveway. When I have packages to ship, I use one of the other carriers because they are often cheaper.

Perhaps that’s why I didn’t find it at all suprising that the U.S. Postal will announce deep cuts today.

Facing bankruptcy, the U.S. Postal Service is pushing ahead with the unprecedented cuts to first-class mail next spring that will slow delivery and, for the first time in 40 years, eliminate the chance for stamped letters to arrive the next day.

Its part of a wide-ranging effort by the cash-strapped Postal Service to quickly trim costs, seeing no immediate help from Congress.

The changes would provide short-term relief, but ultimately could prove counterproductive, pushing more of America’s business onto the Internet. They could slow everything from check payments to Netflix’s DVDs-by-mail, add costs to mail-order prescription drugs, and threaten the existence of newspapers and time-sensitive magazines delivered by postal carrier to far-flung suburban and rural communities.

The Postal Service, an independent agency of government, does not receive tax money, but is subject to congressional control on large aspects of its operations. The changes in first-class mail delivery can go into place without permission from Congress.

After five years in the red, the post office faces imminent default this month on a $5.5 billion annual payment to the Treasury for retiree health benefits. It is projected to have a record loss of $14.1 billion next year amid steady declines in first-class mail volume. Donahoe has said the agency must make cuts of $20 billion by 2015 to be profitable.

It already has announced a 1-cent increase in first-class mail to 45 cents beginning Jan. 22.

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