Washington Daybook: No Deficit of Deficits

Photograph by Justin Lane/EPA

A United States Postal Service truck in New York.

While Congress is out and President Obama campaigns in Colorado, government agencies in Washington are hard at work today, doing what they do best: issuing reports on deficits.

The U.S. Postal Service today reports what’s expected to be its 11th consecutive quarterly loss. There’s little hope of good news. The 237-year-old government-backed mail carrier skipped a required $5.5 billion payment to the U.S. Treasury due Aug. 1 to conserve cash.

The Labor Dept. reports on the deficit of jobs in the U.S. Jobless claims probably rose to 370,000 last week from 365,000, according to a survey.

The U.S. Navy is inappropriately delaying or scaling back $70 million in needed combat testing of USS Gerald R. Ford, an aircraft carrier that may cost $14.2 billion when all the bills are in, in the name of reducing spending and deficits, Bloomberg News reported today, citing a Pentagon weapons tester.

Some good news on another kind of deficit: the U.S. trade gap may have narrowed to $47.5 billion in June, the smallest in four months, from $48.7 billion in May, according to the median projection in a Bloomberg News survey ahead of a Commerce Dept. report. Falling crude oil prices probably helped cut the nation’s import bill while shipments of capital goods increased.

Meanwhile, U.S. athletes made up for their medals deficit with China. The U.S. swept to four golds in a 35-minute span last night at the London Olympics, propelling the Americans atop the medals standings.

Also today, the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration updates its seasonal hurricane forecast. In May the agency predicted a near-normal season with from nine to 15 named storms.

U.S. Commodity Futures Trading commission staff will seek input on ways to protect customer funds held by futures brokerages during a day-long public discussion. The agency is working with futures industry to bolster safeguards and restore investor confidence in wake of client-fund shortfalls left by collapsed brokerages MF Global Holdings Ltd. and Peregrine Financial Group.

And Acting FAA Chief Michael Huerta speaks at closing session of two-day annual air safety forum of the Air Line Pilots Association, the world’s largest pilot union. The forum, attended by pilots from U.S. airlines, is focused on issues such as achieving “one level” of safety for large and regional carriers, avoiding runway collisions, pilot fatigue and unmanned aircraft systems.

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