msnbc | February 09, 2013
>>> it's the end of the era and could be the beginning of the end of an institution. to try and save money the postal service announced beginning august, it will end saturday delivery service. the post office lost $16 billion last year alone. the news took many by surprise. but it was shocking to find out that the post office has managed to last this long says "the daily show ."
>> sorry, where do you want me to take that? hawaii? no problem, you got a quarter, i will get it there in two days.
>> i want to bring in patrick donahoe , post master general of the united states . good to see you, sir, thank you for coming in on that saturday. before we get to saturday delivery and how we can save the post office . let's start with the blizzard in the northeast. the storm forced a number of post offices to close today. what kind of effect has the storm had on you guys and when do you expect it to get back to normal?
>> we will see what happens over the weekend. we toly the instructions that we get from the local people in charge and they told us stay off the street. so hopefully we will have a bit of warm weather to melt it and we will be back in business on monday.
>> let's talk about the post office , senator harry reid said you need approval from congress to halt delivery on saturday, how do you make the change without them signing off on the plan? we have an interpretation of the plan that means we can move ahead. there's people with other opinions. the good thing is this, the current budget resolution expires at the end of march. that gives us six weeks to work it out. what i ask congress to do, eliminate the restrictions so we can move to six days of package deliver and five days of mail delivery .
>> how much does it save?
>> $2 billion. we will have post offices open on saturday and we will deliver picture packages. door to door delivery of letters will go away.
>> there's been talk that e-mail caused mail to drop. but there's the talk that the congress has had just as much an affect on the post office . what can congress do to save the post on office?
>> here is our situation. we've lost 60% of stamped mail. you put in the mailbox, because people pay bills online, it's easy and free. you cannot argue. that the other thing we need congress to do is move ahead on legislation on things that we cannot change. we have to reform the health care . we would like to have our own health care plan. it would save us $7 billion. not just the $2 billion here. and a few other things to give us more flexibility to get in more markets.
>> let's talk about what a lot of folks think may be the biggest hurdle for you guys. can you explain for our viewers in the simplest of terms what the prefunding retirement benefits have done to the post office .
>> here is the way this works. in two now and six, congress passed allow -- in 2006 congress passed a law for us to free fund the retiring benefits. we want to do that, but instead of spreading it over 40 years, we had to do it in ten years. the volume dropped, between e-mail and people paying bills on line. we have half, we have $50 billion in, we have to change the way we are paying it. it has burdened us.
>> my father retierped from the postal service -- retired from postal service after 44 years. helped my family rise to the middle class . it was pointed out how cuts can impact minority communities. take a listen.
>> this is reduction from five days to -- from six days to five days, will cut anywhere from 25 to 30,000 employees. and with regard to asians, african americans and hispanics, they make up about 40% of the postal service employees.
>> how can the postal service reduce the impact of any cuts on these communities especially?
>> here is what we have been doing. before i move off of that, tell your father, thank you for his service and congratulations. here is what we are doing. we anticipated this. the postal service had to reduce the head count, about $300,000 people over the last ten years. we knew it was going to happen. we are proud that as we made changes nobody has gotten laid off.
>> you used attrition.
>> yes, and overtime. we have had the discussion of 20,000 people plus. but most of it is overtime. we will shrink the over time , we've been allowing people to retire and that is not having a big disruption in their lives.
>> what about turning the post office into a general store of sorts for the 21st century . why can't we go to a post ovrs and you know, buy a prepaid cell phone or go in a post office and buy a cup of coffee. why not turn the post office into something bigger.
>> there's a lot of people that would be mad if we sold cell phones and coffees. here is what we are doing. the reason we are delivering packages on saturday is because package growth is booming. 14% up in the last two years. 17% christmas this year. year over year. big, big growth in fact, you will see in some areas we will be delivering packages on sunday starting soon. that is a big innovation. the other thing that you see, is the world of secure and secure digital messages. we are getting into that, people tell us, the same thing you can do from a hard copy, sealed against inspection, we need that in the digital, e-mail world. there's a lot on the table. we have to get the negative finance behind us in the rear view mirror so we can focus on growth.
>> sunday package delivery . that's the first time i heard of that.
>> yep, it's going to happen.
>> when is that going to happen?
>> it's going happen soon. i'm not telling you anything else. just watch for your letter carrier in your neighborhood.
>> before i lit you get out of here -- before i let you get out of here. t hash tag, save the usps, it was out there yesterday. how much can the public opinion affect the debate here?
>> the public has been weighing in. we have taken surveys . 70% of americans have said, the do not let the postal office be a burden on the taxpayer. if saturday delivery has to go, let it go, we heard customers say deliver packages on saturday if you can. i think you will see sur rays that have a higher percent that way. the american knows we have to change. and we have to change in order to stay relevant and that is what we are trying to do.
>> patrick donahoe , post master general . thank you, appreciate your time on this saturday.