Forty-one years ago Congress told the U.S. Postal Service tostart acting like an independent business and pay its own way.Every time the Postal Service tries, something stands in the way:Congress.

Facing annual losses of $18.2 billion by 2015 and a possibledefault this year, the Postal Service has a five-year plan forprofitability. It wants to end Saturday mail delivery, closehundreds of letter-sorting facilities and thousands of post officesand consider breaking union contracts to fire employees. It alsowants to set up an independent health plan, raise postal rates andenter lines of business such as delivering wine and liquor.

Each element of the plan has an opponent. Postal worker unionsare fighting the closings and job cuts. Direct-mail advertisers andmagazine publishers demand Saturday delivery and low rates. Ruralconstituents — for whom the post office is their strongest link tothe rest of the world — and their representatives in Congressprotest post office closings.

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