To address this, the Postal Service’s board of governors recommended that “unneeded facilities” (mostly low-volume rural post offices) should be closed and Saturday mail service should be stopped.
However, the Postal Service is more than another government agency. It gives identity to small towns. It ties rural communities to the larger world. It connects families and friends. It keeps small businesses in contact with customers.
Put simply, it does more than deliver the mail.
Still, the U.S. Postal Service is nearly bankrupt and, as the board of governors put it, “it is totally inappropriate in these economic times” to avoid making these cuts.
Congress, however, felt otherwise.
The Senate debate over these proposals was not the usual party partisanship – budget-cutting Republicans vs. union job-saving Democrats – but along rural and urban lines, with senators from the less populous states arguing that the cuts would hurt their communities the most.
That argument hit home and the Senate came up with a compromise that will give the Postal Service $11 billion to keep it running, according to Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn, “throughout the 21st century.”
Included in the Senate plan were a number of cost-saving measures that would make the appropriation easier for some opponents to swallow.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was not one of them. He likened the agreement to kicking the can down the road and warned that “we’ll be on the floor in two years addressing this issue again.”
Obviously this compromise does not solve the service’s fundamental problem – it spends more than it brings in. However, the debate made it clear that the U.S. Postal is a community building, public and private job creating, identity defining agency which is in the condition it is in because what it is expected to do costs more than it has to do it with.
So now the Senate bill will go to the House where it faces an uncertain future, just as the Postal Service does.
What it comes down to is whether or not this nation is willing to subsidize this agency and all its many activities and benefits, or if the cost is simply too high and those activities and benefits must be abandoned.
In other words, is the Postal Service worth the money?