Postal Service sets record $15.9B loss
WASHINGTON — The Postal Service on Thursday reported a record annual loss and warned that, without congressional action, it could face a cash shortfall next fall.
The mail service said it lost $15.9 billion in the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30 — more than triple its $5.1 billion loss last year.
The Postal Service — which relies on the sale of stamps and other products rather than taxpayer dollars — has been grappling for years with high costs and tumbling mail volumes as consumers communicate more online.
In September, the Postal Service hit its $15 billion borrowing limit for the first time in its history. The agency has few options if it suffers an unexpected shock — such as a slowdown if lawmakers are unable to prevent the year-end tax increases and spending cuts known as the “fiscal cliff.”
“When you've got a $65 billion revenue business, and you are looking at the potential of this fiscal cliff, of course that may have an impact on advertising and whatnot, which could hurt us,” Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe.
“That's why we're saying let's get this thing done now ... and get us off of our own personal, postal fiscal cliff.”
Much of the agency's loss in 2012 came from two defaults on a total of more than $11 billion in payments that Congress directed the agency to pay into a fund for future retirees' health benefits.
The agency was unable to make the payments, but still must account for them in financial statements.
The Postal Service wants Congress to pass legislation that would allow the agency to end Saturday mail delivery and to run its own health plan rather than enrolling employees in federal health programs.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments â either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.