Thursday, February 9, 2012

Republicans Wage War on the Postal Service

USPS service delivery truck in a residential a...Image via Wikipedia

Republican leaders in Congress are talking about dismembering the US Postal Service by cutting the number of delivery days, shuttering processing centers so that it will take longer for letters to arrive, closing thousands of rural and inner-city post offices and taking additional steps that would dramatically downsize one of the few national programs ordained by the original draft of the US Constitution.

Most people believe, in error, that taxpayers support the postal service. The agency is self supporting. Most importantly, if you haven't heard it before, know this... the postal service is not broke.

Here are facts cited in John Nichols' article in the Nation magazine:

At the behest of the Republican-controlled Congress of the Bush-Cheney era, the USPS has been forced since 2006 to pre-fund future retiree health benefits. As the American Postal Workers Union notes, “This mandate is the primary cause of the agency’s financial crisis. No other government agency or private company bears this burden, which costs the USPS approximately $5.5 billion annually.”
Now, however, we learn that the pre-funding requirements have taken so much money from the USPS that—according to the postal service’s own inspector general—it has “significantly exceeded” the level of reserved money that the federal government or private corporations divert to meet future pension and retiree health care demands. “Using ratepayer funds, it has built a war chest of over $326 billion to address its future liabilities,” acknowledges Postal Service Inspector General David C. Williams.
That, argues US Senator Bernie Sanders, puts “the rationale for postal cuts in doubt.”

Roger Green, Times offers the following in support of the USPS:

In 2006, Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA), which forced the USPS to put aside billions of dollars to pay for the health benefits of employees, many of whom hadn’t even been hired yet. [Indeed, for employees who haven't been BORN yet.] Over a mere ten-year period, the USPS was required to pre-fund its future health care benefit payments to retirees for the next 75 years, something no other government or private corporation is required to do. As consumer advocate Ralph Nader observed, if PAEA had never been enacted, USPS would now be facing a $1.5 billion surplus.
As this article notes, “This is not to say that the Postal Service would be out of the woods entirely were PAEA’s health-care provision repealed. Volume continues to decline, and costs continue to rise.” There may be some entrepreneurial opportunities to revive the Postal Service, noted in the first article. But it’s clear that, especially in small towns, that the very fabric of small towns are being rent asunder by these post office closings, and unnecessarily so.
As noted in the former piece, one thing that would help the situation enormously would be to support support HR1351, a bill introduced by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Massachusetts) to repeal the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act.
The Republicans War on the postal service is about reducing employment in the USPS, deunionizing another organization,  and privatization. No thought is being given to rural areas who would not be lucrative for most private businesses and most people don't know how UPS and other delivery competition uses the Postal Service to deliver to non-profitable areas.  People don't think about things like address correction and mail forwarding that's offered free to the American public.  I wonder how much profit the Postal Service could generate if it charged folks to forward their mail every time they moved?  It may not seem like an important issue, but we'd better keep our eye on the ball.  You never miss your water until the well runs dry.
Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment