Congress to Hightail it Out of Washington With Major Priorities Unfinished

By: Tuesday September 18, 2012 7:36 am

Congress is in session this week for the final time this year before the election. I sort of shrugged this off as fairly typical for an election year, but it’s not. Usually, Congress stays in session until about a month before the election. Here they’re leaving with seven weeks to go. The do-nothing Congress has decided to double up on doing nothing.


Responding to Comments on the Future of the Postal Service

By: Friday August 3, 2012 10:13 am

My article about the postal service got an unusually robust amount of play among the blogosphere, so I thought I’d respond to some of the comments.

Manufactured Postal Service Challenges Have Plenty of Answers

By: Wednesday August 1, 2012 12:40 pm

The US Postal Service will default on a $5.5 billion prepaid retiree health benefit payment today, and this will surely lead to calls for privatization or mass jobs cuts. But the default concerns the unusual way in which the USPS, unlike virtually any other company in the world, pre-pays its health benefits many years out, and today’s terrible Congress, bent on destroying the government’spostal service, refuses to fix the problem.

Irresponsible Congress Abandons Key Bills, a Mark of Its Historic Dysfunction

By: Tuesday July 24, 2012 6:45 am

It’s the time of the (election) season where Congress does everything it can to delay contentious issues until after November. As Felix Salmon writes, if Congress can’t sweat the small stuff, what’s the hope of them coming to a decent solution – or any solution – on the fiscal cliff? We throw around words like “worst ever” far too loosely, but in the case of the 112th Congress, it really does apply.

Credit Unions Gained 40,000 New Members on Bank Transfer Day

By: Wednesday November 9, 2011 8:15 am

The Credit Union National Association, the leading trade group for credit unions, reports 40,000 new accounts on November 5. This is 24 times the normal rate of membership increases for the industry in 2010, and two times the rate of membership since September 29, after the major banks tried to increase fees for using debit cards.

Postal Service “Crisis” Comes Entirely From Unorthodox Pre-Funding Mandate

By: Wednesday September 28, 2011 7:00 am

We’re being threatened with the imminent demise of the US Postal Service, and the potential loss of 120,000 good-paying jobs. But most of the near-term funding “crisis” for the USPS comes from an unusual pre-funding mandate for retiree benefits.

Postal Service Wants to Eliminate 120,000 Jobs

By: Friday August 12, 2011 4:14 pm

Apparently, the postal service often makes dire predictions like this before contract negotiations. I doubt that 120,000 postal employees will be laid off in one shot. However, there’s at least a couple things to take seriously here.

First, the decline in mail volume is real. Practically every company with a monthly bill encourages their customers to pay automatically or online. That significantly reduces mail output. The move of Netflix to streaming from mail service is probably a big blow. The rise of email over personal letters is another factor. The postal service has become a way to get Amazon orders out and to get birthday cards with $10 wedged in them from grandparents to grandchildren.

It has become a less crucial communications factor in American life. And because the postal service operates under a mandate to serve every home in America, even ones in the most rural outposts, which simply cannot be reached without a federal subsidy, their budget is more and more difficult to reach.

Jobs Don’t Live Here Anymore

By: Thursday August 6, 2009 1:30 pm

Photo credit: ep jhu

The unemployment data is due tomorrow, and it’s likely to be bad, with an expected 300,000 to 320,000 jobs lost in July, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and others. That’s a big problem. But unfortunately, when it comes to getting the nation back to work, tomorrow’s unemployment rate isn’t the biggest problem we face.

What’s really troubling is long-term unemployment.

EPI economists see the economic stimulus as alleviating the jobs crisis created under Bush.

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