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BOSTON — The Trump administration has given a thumbs-down to a proposal to sell $600 million worth of assets from the U.S. Postal Service, saying the assets would not be needed in a world with lower commodity prices.
The postal service’s chief executive, Kevin G. Hahn, said Monday that the administration has not decided whether to sell its commercial aircraft to airlines that are using them to serve their customers in places such as Asia and Europe.
The agency is one of the nation’s largest recipients of government subsidies, and it has a $1.4 trillion debt load that is projected to balloon as the U,S.
The agency has been struggling for years with an aging fleet, and Mr. Hahns efforts to diversify the postal service have been stymied by the recession and political upheaval.
Mr. Gahn’s comments come as the Trump administration is working to create a national postal service.
He also expressed concern about the Postal Service’s ability to compete with Amazon and other online retailers in the post office market, as well as its ability to deliver mail to its customers in more rural areas.
“Postal Service is in dire straits and we don’t know what the next phase is going to be,” Mr. Trump said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.
The president’s comments, which followed the announcement by the Postmaster General that the Postal Regulatory Commission will be tasked with reviewing the agency’s future, were in line with his previous comments about postal service and postal workers.
“There is no way the Postal Savings Plan will be able to survive unless the Postal Administration gets back to its roots and does a better job of managing its finances,” Mr, Trump said.
Under the plan, the Postal Government Administration would sell off the assets.
The Postal Service would also receive a $300 million credit to help it pay for other operations.
A spokeswoman for the Postal Services Association, which represents the agency, said the agency will decide next week whether to take the plan public.
The president and Postal Service officials are due to make their final pitch to Congress about whether to pass the plan next week, according to a White House official who was not authorized to speak publicly.
The Postal Service is one the largest recipients in the United States of government spending.
It is the only federal agency that has a direct line to the American public.
It has been facing a sharp drop in mail volumes and other costs as a result of the recession, which began in 2008.
Mr. Hohn, who is retiring after 30 years at the agency in January, said in a conference call with reporters that the postal system was not doing enough to support its aging fleet.
“We have a lot of challenges that we have to deal with and we are going to continue to do that in the future,” he said.
“We need to make sure we have the right infrastructure and our postal service can handle the needs that come with the changing nature of the world and the world’s changing economies.”
The agency, which relies on mail deliveries of nearly 6 billion pieces a year, was last in line to receive a government subsidy in the mid-1990s.
It was one of four agencies that received $600 billion in federal support that year, and the agency has struggled with long-term retirements of many workers, especially at its rural mail processing centers.
In recent years, the postal agency has focused more on technology and automation as it tries to stay competitive with Amazon, eBay and other technology firms.
Its mail processing center at the Bancshires is now a Walmart.
At the same time, the agency is struggling to find ways to pay for its retirees, who receive $14.7 billion in annual benefits, as it struggles to cover pension payments and health care for retirees.
Write to Ben Hubbard at [email protected]