The U.S. Postal Service is often the butt of jokes, but there's nothing funny about the agency's bottom line.
The USPS is losing up to $25 million dollars a day. Until now, taxpayers have not been on the hook for its mounting losses, but that could be about to change. A bailout recently approved by the Senate would appropriate $34 billion in federal money.
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"If the post office was a business, it would be in bankruptcy," said Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla. "It's insolvent."
Ironically, however, Congress shares much of the blame. For years, the Postal Service begged Washington for the freedom to cut its own budget by closing post offices and cutting employees. But Congress, under pressure from rural constituents and labor unions, prevented the cuts, and the service continued to bleed red ink.
In December, the USPS said it wanted to close more than half of its mail processing centers, eliminate 28,000 jobs, end overnight delivery of first-class mail, close 3,700 local post offices and end Saturday delivery.
The Senate said no, prohibiting the Postmaster General from taking those actions altogether, or delaying them for two to three years.
For the time being, the Postal Service has a moratorium on office closings -- but that moratorium expires on May 15, absent an elusive compromise between the House and Senate.
The service is now caught between competing interests. On one side, the desire to fix the budget and stop the financial bleeding. On the other, the desire to spare small towns across America from losing their local post offices, even if they aren't making money.
The Postal Service has identified 3,700 post offices for possible closure. Click here to see if your town's post office could be affected.