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Eye Opener: More Postal Woes

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Thursday! As if it wasn't bad enough for the U.S. Postal Service, rising gas prices could be its next big challenge.

"Low fuel prices have been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise gloomy year for the beleaguered Postal Service. But they have crept up in recent weeks — by an average of 11 percent just this month, according to the Energy Department. And that means a big expense for the Postal Service, where each one-cent increase in the price of gasoline adds $9 million to the annual fuel bill," reports Gregg Carlstrom of Federal Times.

That's one of the reasons why Postal leaders have once again asked a House subcommittee for permission to drop one day of mail service. It's a request lawmakers are now seriously considering after rejecting such an idea as foolhardy back in January.

"This year the service expects to move 180 billion pieces of mail. That sounds like a lot, but it's 32 billion less than in fiscal 2007. The collapse in volume is the largest since the Great Depression," reports The Post's Joe Davidson.

"The legislative relief the Postal Service wants is permission to change the way it funds retiree health-care benefits and to cut the sixth delivery day, most likely Saturday. Legislation the subcommittee is considering would allow the agency to pay for the health benefits of current retirees out of its Retiree Health Benefit Fund instead of its operating budget, saving about $2 billion this year."

So maybe do your friend mail carrier a favor and mail a few letters, eh?

Cabinet and Staff News: Tom Vilsack makes the case for USDA's relevancy. Hillary Clinton promises equal benefits to gay and lesbian partners of overseas diplomats. Janet Napolitano visits the U.S.-Canada border at Motor City next week. Timothy Geithner says the U.S. making headway in battling the financial crisis. Economic stimulus czar G. Edward DeSeve gives Obama a healthy progress report. A member of the Pawnee tribe who was Idaho’s attorney general is the new head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Interior deputy secretary nominee David Hayes confirmed.

In other news...

Today's Big Event: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration releases its hurricane forecast at 10 a.m. at Reagan National Airport... The Eye will be there!

Tracking Stimulus Spending May Not Be as Easy as Promised: Three months after the economic stimulus package was approved, Recovery.gov offers little beyond news releases, general breakdowns of spending, and acronym-laden spreadsheets and timelines. And congressional Democrats, state officials and advocates of open government worry that the White House cannot come close to clearing the high bar it set.

House Approves Measure Allowing Guns Into National Parks: The legislation was the latest defeat for gun-control advocates, who had expected more success with a Democratic president and Democratic majorities in both chambers of Congress.

DOJ to Widen Health-Care Fraud Investigation: Health-care fraud is among the top enforcement priorities of the new DOJ team, which is working closely with the inspector general at HHS and the FBI to collect and analyze computerized information about fraudulent claims.

PBGC's Deficit Triples to $33.5 Billion: The federal agency that guarantees corporate pensions was $33.5 billion in the red at the end of March, triple its deficit six months earlier.

SEC Stakes Out Regulatory Turf: Turf war! The chairman of the agency pushes back against the possibility that her agency might lose regulatory control over mutual funds to a new federal commission on consumer financial products.

FDA Chief Halts Use of Gift Cards, Other Employee Incentives: The acting head of agency suspended its use of gift cards and other informal bonuses to employees yesterday, after a report that the FDA had awarded a $41,030 contract last month to a company to supply the cards.

Warning About DOT Contractors: The department’s inspector general issued an advisory saying the agency does not report in a timely manner those contractors who have been suspended or barred from participation in transportation programs because of fraud.

NIH Launches Drug-Development Program for Rare Diseases: The development program would also target so-called neglected diseases, while rare in the U.S., are often linked to parasites that sicken millions of people who live in tropical parts of the world.

By Ed O'Keefe  | May 21, 2009; 6:15 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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Next: NOAA Releases 2009 Hurricane Outlook

Comments

Well, when gas was upwards of $4.00, it was costing the PO a lot of money. The drop from that high point SHOULD have SAVED them a ton of bucks. The gas going back up is nothing compared to what they used to pay, they should be happy it is that low compared to a year ago.

Posted by: caleefe | May 21, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

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