msnbc.com news services
updated 1/24/2011 2:56:24 PM ET 2011-01-24T19:56:24

The cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service plans to begin closing as many as 2,000 post offices around the country and is reviewing another 16,000, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

The move is part of a cost-cutting program designed to staunch the red ink the postal service has been bleeding. The postal service reported losses of more than $8 billion for the 2010 fiscal year.

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The 16,000 offices being reviewed represent about half of the nation’s total offices, the newspaper said, and will hit rural areas particularly hard. It said the postal service will be lobbying Congress to change the law so it can close the most unprofitable offices.

The Wall Street Journal said the postal service is arguing that many of the offices date from the horse-and-buggy era and are outdated now that many people use the Internet to pay bills and send letters.

But, the paper said, a disproportionate number of post offices are in rural or suburban areas, and their closure would shut off the closest link to the rest of the country for those communities. The paper also pointed out that critics of the move say it could place a large burden on the elderly, who find it hard to travel out of their towns or suburbs.

“We want to make the smartest decisions possible with the smallest impact on communities," Dean Granholm, vice president for delivery and post office operations, told The Wall Street Journal in an interview.

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