How else to explain why the nation's lawmakers have gone on summer vacation without lifting a finger about the Postal Service and its mounting debt? If Noah had seen this big of a red sea coming his way he would have hurried up with that ark.
On Thursday, the service reported a quarterly loss of $5.2 billion. That was $2.1 billion more than what it lost during the same quarter last year.
Worse than that, it had to default on a payment to the Treasury to cover the cost of health benefits for future retirees. That's not just a sign the ship is in trouble, it's a hole in the hull.
Troubling as this news was, it wasn't a bit shocking. Many months have passed since the Postal Service said it wanted to close several post offices and eliminate Saturday mail delivery, just for starters. Even though the service receives no direct federal subsidy, it needed congressional approval for that.
But Congress seems to be covering its ears and shouting, "Blah! Blah! Blah! I can't heard you!"
In 1957, the Postal Service actually stopped delivering on Saturdays. It did it just once. The public outcry was so loud that Congress and President Eisenhower hurried through a $41 million funding plan to rescue it.
Back then the Postal Service was a government agency. Before granting the money, the House Appropriations Committee lectured postal officials about fiscal discipline and told them to start living within their means.
Apparently, members of Congress could do that back then with straight faces, and without looking like total hypocrites.
Does anyone believe the public would react similarly today, or that politicians would lose votes by allowing such an end to Saturday delivery? If so, would anyone find irony in the fact that those complaints likely would be emailed to politicians?
Times have changed. There are many potential solutions out there to the Postal Service's problems. This blog offers a few. But it's irresponsible for members of Congress to allow this important service to continue drowning in its own mess while they go home looking for votes.