The U.S. Postal Service announced a record loss of $15.9 billion for the fiscal year 2012, which it blamed primarily on a mandate to set aside billions of dollars for a retirement heath fund.
The Postal Service said that its loss includes $11.1 billion in defaulted payments it owes to "prefund" health benefits for future retirees. Postal officials have complained for years about these prepayments, which are required by Congress, to pay for future retirees. The Postal Service also points out that other federal agencies don't have similar mandates for prefunding.
"The mandate has depleted Postal Service funds, forcing the [agency] to give up any quarterly or annual profits, empty its bank accounts and exhaust its borrowing authority ... to satisfy an unfair political mandate," Rolando said in a written statement.
He said that without the mandate, the Postal Service would have lost $2.2 billion this year. While that's still a deficit, he said it's about half the $4.9 billion it lost last year.
USPS fails to deliver $5.5 billion
The Postal Service has been struggling with declines in mail revenue, which is a casualty of a sluggish economy as well as the Internet.
Officials have threatened to scale back service to five days, shuttering their low-volume, low-revenue, Saturday service. But the notion of five-day service is intensely unpopular in Congress and unlikely to prevail.