Sources of the USPS deficit: Postal Service 23%, Congress 77%

Right wing commentators have had a field day with the US Postal Service’s announcement of a $3.1 billion loss in the third quarter. All we’ve heard about is “failed business models”, “bloated bureaucracies”, and of course, that new favorite epithet, “taxpayer bailout!”.

While that fits the world view of Fox News and the Tea Party, it doesn’t square with reality. The USPS monthly financial report shown below tells a very different story.

Of the $5.7 billion year to date loss the USPS reported last week, only $1.3 billion came from actual USPS operations. The remainder, 77% of the total loss, came from Congressional mandates.

Now, it goes without saying that a $1.3 billion loss is not peanuts- but put that loss in perspective- without the demands of the PAEA trust fund, the USPS would have no debt, and billions in free cash available to weather the recession, while it continued to downsize its staffing and facilities to match lower demand.

Instead the agency has been forced to the brink of insolvency by the same extremists in Congress who brought you the debt ceiling “crisis”. At long last, they get to say that the USPS would be losing money even without the trust fund payments, ignoring the tens of billions the USPS has already had to hand over to the Treasury to make the federal debt look smaller.

Unfortunately, the mainstream media continues to parrot the right wing talking points, ignoring the real cause of the USPS’s problems. On the plus side, the US Postal Services continues to be the most trusted agency of the federal government, even as recent polls show that Americans’ respect for Congress has never been lower. Let’s hope the public wakes up to the threat Congress poses to their postal service before it’s too late.

June 2011 Financials

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  • M. Jamison

    And now DeadTree reports the mailing associations piling on and insisting that there are too many postal workers who are paid too much.
    Broken business model, outdated paradigm and all the other talking points aside, the facts are pretty clear – the Postal Service sits where it is today because of rapacious Congressional mandates and a complete lack of vision on the part of Headquarters.
    The irony of all this is that were postal services privatized the rates and service for advertising mail would likely destroy the mailing industry. Cheap bulk rates exist on the back of the first class infrastructure and the universal mandate. A privatized postal service likely hurts some of our greatest critics the most.