USPS awaits rate hike decision

Sept. 30, 2010 at 9:12 AM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- The U.S. Postal Service, expecting to announce billions of dollars in losses, says it hopes to learn whether regulators approve a proposed rate increase.

Postal regulators were expected to announce Thursday whether they approve a proposed 5.6 percent postage rate hike that would begin in January, The Washington Post reported.

GOP opposition prevented Congress from allowing the Postal Service to delay paying $5.5 billion required by law to pre-fund retiree health benefits. Both houses approved a stopgap spending measure funding most federal services that didn't include USPS.

"The Postal Service does not want to make the tough decisions, which include cuts in personnel, pay and benefits," said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., an opponent of the rate increase proposal and congressional relief. "Instead, they are relying on a generous taxpayer bailout that will not solve any of their mid- or long-term problems."

The Office of Management and Budget said delivery service would not be compromised.

In April, Postmaster General John Potter said without relief by way of lowering payments to the retirement trust fund this year, "we are perilously close to running out of cash in October."

Administration and Postal Service officials have been meeting to determine how much, of not all, of the payment can be made by Thursday, the end of this fiscal year, the Post reported.

The Postal Service has cut $10 billion in spending since 2008 and trimmed its workforce through attrition.

Senate Democrats said they hope to introduce a bill during the lame-duck session that would give the Postal Service more flexibility in determining its delivery schedule and deciding whether it needs to close branches.

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