The ailing Postal Service, which is laying off employees and shutting down post offices left and right in the face of a crippling budget deficit, announced more bad news today: the agency might straight-up run out of cash by September 2012.
After losing $5.1 billion this year, the USPS is estimating a record $14.1 billion loss for next year. It seems that no one is really sending snail mail these days: "We continue to see steady declines, unfortunately, in first-class mail, which is our most profitable product,” said postmaster general Patrick Donahoe. Mail volume has dropped more than 20 percent in the past five years, mainly due to the dreaded email, and the USPS estimates that number will increase by six percent next year. Chief financial officer Joseph Corbett said that revenue is expected to decline to $64 billion in 2012, from $65.7 billion in 2011. “We are cash-strapped,” he told the Washington Times, a line which is now in the running for understatement of the century.
In September, Congress gave the Service a three-month lifeline to pay a postponed $5.5 billion to fund retiree health benefits. The deadline for that deal is this Friday, and Postal Service doesn't forsee being able to pay up. Donahoe said the Postal Service could start making money again “if Congress passes comprehensive legislation to provide us with a more flexible business model," to which Congress responded, "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me."