Postal Service Seeks 50-cent Stamps
WASHINGTON, DC -- A nickel boost in the first-class stamp price to 50 cents is part of the U.S. Postal Service's latest plan to stop bleeding red ink.

The Postal Service released the 5-year business plan to Congress late Thursday in part to push Congress to pass legislation to help them get through ongoing financial woes. Due in large part to declining first-class mail volume, the service recorded a $3.3 billion loss in the final three months of last year, which is usually a profitable period.

The Postal Service says that, if nothing is done, it faces $18 billion in losses by 2015. Lawmakers have been working on different plans for months, but all of them have controversial aspects and are stalled.

The U.S. Postal Service's plan would save about $20 billion over the next five years, although it needs Congress to act to achieve about $10 billion in savings.

Nearly all the ideas in the five-year plan have been proposed before, except for the big first-class stamp boost. Raising the price of the stamp to 50 cents from 45 cents now could yield $1 billion a year in new revenue, according to the plan.

Among previously offered proposals, home delivery would be cut to five days a week from six, and thousands of post offices and mail processing plants would be closed. The service would slow the delivery of first class mail by a day.

The agency also proposes bypassing a federal law that requires that it to prefund retiree health care. It would also create a new health care plan for employees to be run by the Postal Service.

The plan would also reduce the number of employees by 155,000 by 2016, mostly through pushing some of the 283,000 eligible to retire.

"The plan we have developed requires a combination of aggressive cost reduction, rethinking the way we manage our healthcare costs, and comprehensive legislation to reform the business model of the Postal Service," said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe.