USPS Saturday delivery decision criticized

(CBS News) There's new criticism over big changes planned by the U.S. Postal Service. Some say ending Saturday delivery of first-class mail goes too far.

This is getting a lot of criticism, particularly from rural lawmakers and letter carriers union, which is worried about layoffs. The postmaster general says he can end Saturday service without cutting jobs -- he can just cut overtime, and allow more retirements -- but he's still going to face a fight.

USPS announces Saturday service cuts in effort to slash costs

The Postal Service's plan to cut Saturday delivery came as no surprise to many Americans. One man told CBS News, "I think it's a real good thing. I think they should've done it years ago."

But not everyone is giving it their stamp of approval. One West Virginian said, "It would affect me. My business mail that comes on Saturdays. I would miss that."

Another, a Mainer said, "It's vital. I mean I don't think that they should change it."

Those same sentiments were echoed by some on Capitol Hill. In a statement Wednesday, Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, called the plan "bad news for Alaskans and small business owners who rely on timely delivery to rural areas". Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind-Vt., said the move would send the postal service into a "death spiral" while "doing very little to improve the financial condition of the Postal Service."

But House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, sympathized with the decision. Boehner said, "I think trying to act in this postal era is pretty difficult. But I understand where the Postal Commission is coming from."

Under the new plan, delivery for everything would be cut back to five days a week except for packages, mail-order medicine, and express mail. Post offices now open on Saturday's would remain open.

U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said, "The choice is either change some of the service or raise prices and people don't want prices raised. We'll make the changes in service."

The postmaster general says the move will save an estimated $2 billion a year annually. Still, that'll do little to stop the financial bleeding of an operation that lost $16 billion last year alone. Donohoe said, "We don't take any tax money. Our revenues pay for what we do. We need to act responsibly with good common sense and that's what we're doing."

There is a question about whether this plan is even legal. Technically, the Postal Service needs approval from Congress if it wants to cut service, but the postmaster general says he is moving ahead no matter what and he just hopes Congress won't stand in the way.

For Nancy Cordes' report, watch the video in the player above.

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