Save the Postal Service

Sen. Bernie Sanders recently introduced a Postal Service reform bill to modernize and save the U.S. Postal Service, which announced on Tuesday that it lost $5.1 billion last year. "While we all understand that USPS is experiencing financial problems today and that changes need to be made as the Postal Service adjusts to a digital world, we believe that these issues can be dealt with in a way which strengthens the Postal Service, rather than initiating a series of cuts that could eventually lead to its ultimate demise.  We also believe that in the midst of a horrendous recession it makes no sense to terminate the jobs of 100,000 workers - many of whom are veterans," Sanders wrote in a letter summarizing the bill. He introduced the legislation last Thursday, four days after he hosted a Vermont town meeting on the postal service. Watch a short video on the town meeting. Read the bill or read a summary of the legislation.

Sanders blamed the Postal Service's money troubles largely on accounting issues, including a law requiring it to set aside retiree health and retirement benefits far in advance. Congress had let the Postal Service postpone about $5.5 billion in annual payments to prefund retiree health benefits. Lawmakers haven't said yet whether the Postal Service will need to make the payment after a current short-term spending measure expires Friday.

Mail volume dropped to about 168 billion pieces delivered, a drop of 3 billion pieces from the previous year. Deliveries of first-class mail, the most popular delivery option, dropped 6 percent. There was some good news. Revenue for Priority Mail and Express jumped $530 million last year, or 6 percent. The increases was attributed to growth in the use of the Internet to purchase and ship products. Standard Mail generated $495 million in revenue, a 2.9 percent jump.