Chat With The Eye!: Sen. Bunning, Post Office, Rahm Emanuel
Post office customer in Rockville: John E. Potter (Postmaster General of the United States) seems to be in the process of asking for a lot more federal money while defending his agency which is expected to lose $238 billion in the next 10 years. Other businesses have survived when there was a business downturn. Why can't the post office? Are we dealing with another bloated government agency? Companies go out of business when they can't compete.
Ed O'Keefe: One big misconception that we're going to kill early in this chat: The Postal Service is NOT seeking a government bailout and is not seeking subsidies for the universal service it provides.
It does have a $15 billion debt limit with the U.S. treasury. By September the mail agency anticipates being just $1.8 billion shy of that limit.
But Potter made it infinitely clear during a briefing for reporters on Monday that he doesn't want USPS to seek taxpayer assistance, because of the current economic climate, the obvious impact it would make on the treasury and the fact that they believe they can go it alone.
Make up your mind: So the Post and other media outlets have been running dozens of stories stating that Rahm Emanuel has too much influence in the White House and is screwing up things.
Now we got a story that says he's not influential enough!
At some point, stuff like this makes the Post look like it's more interested in filling space than it is in accurately reporting the truth.
So what is the truth?
Ed O'Keefe: The truth is in the eye of the beholder on this one and Washington isn't sure what to make of Rahm Emanuel: Maybe he's good for President Obama, maybe he's bad. So at this point, we've presented both arguments.
Bristow, Va.: Five day mail delivery, like term limits for Congress, should have been imposed forty years ago. The energy alone that is saved (oil and wind), justifies it.
Ed O'Keefe: And national polling backs you up, Bristow. Potter seems to believe he'll get Congress to give him five days of delivery and maybe a few other items. Stay tuned.
Interestingly -- the one thing customers really don't want is the Postal Service to stop delivering mail directly to them. They explored possibly setting up "clusterboxes" in neighborhoods that would house everyone's mail box in one location (which is done in newer subdivisions). But polling and customer surveys showed folks didn't like that idea, so USPS backed off those plans.
Greenbelt, Md.: Is there a requirement that the USPS has to have a post office within each ZIP code? What are the requirements for that post office? Could the Postal Service sell off some of its properties and provide basic postal services out of a much smaller storefront?
(I'm not sure what other people would do with some of those post offices, though. The post office in Sunspot, New Mexico, is only as big as an outhouse.)
Ed O'Keefe: Yes -- by law, every zip code must have a post office. That's why military bases and even the White House have one, because they have their own Zip code.
The plans call for keeping those offices in each Zip, but then close down and consolidate other locations and eventually provide some services and products in grocery stores, pharmacies, coffee shops and office supply stores.
Cool Kids: Hey, kids today want to be cool, just like President Obama, so they want to take up smoking. Think that might get Barack Obama to stop smoking?
Ed O'Keefe: Yes -- The White House has been very careful to address this issue. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said on Monday that the president chews nicotine gum but occasionally slides and smokes. He gets asked about it in interviews and gets defensive.
The big challenge or question is: Will we ever see a photo of President Obama smoking?
Read the full chat here and leave your thoughts in the comments section below
| March 2, 2010; 12:00 PM ET
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