Letter: Mandates given USPS unrealistic

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As president of National Association of Letter Carriers, I'm responding to the Aug. 23 Columbian editorial, "Reality hits postal service." The editorial extolling efforts to reduce service and degrade the nation's only universal delivery network repeats prevailing myths about the U.S. Postal Service -- blaming the Internet for the USPS' fiscal woes. But while more people pay bills online, they also order goods online; increasingly, letter carriers deliver those packages.

There's red ink, but it has little to do with mail volume, email or other mail-related factors.

Here are some easily verifiable facts: An efficient USPS has done well financially delivering the mail, despite a poor economy -- and without a dime of taxpayer money for 30 years. Fiscal 2012's first quarter, for example, saw a $200 million operational profit.

Rather, 83 percent of all the red ink results from an external political factor -- the 2006 congressional mandate that the Postal Service do something no other agency or company has to do -- prefund future retiree health benefits. Worse, it must prefund 75 years into the future.

This unrealistic mandate is leading the USPS off the fiscal cliff. If Congress fixes the mess it created, your readers and their businesses could continue to receive the world's most affordable delivery services, six days a week.

Fredric Rolando

Washington, D.C.