2/11/13

The Post Office Isn't Broken: Congressional Republicans Just Want It to Be

The financial problems of the United States Postal Service, which will end Saturday mail delivery in August due to budget shortfalls, are largely the fault of Congressional Republicans, who, in 2006, passed a law, called the "Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act" (PAEA), mandating that the USPS pre-fund its retiree and pension benefits 75 years into the future.

No other government agency or private company in the U.S. has to do that.

Most of the Post Office's red ink -- 85% -- is the result of this pre-funding mandate.

According to the USPS' Inspector General, its pensions are over-funded and retiree health care reserves far exceed those of any other federal government agency, the military, and nearly every Fortune 1000 company.

It's the USPS' very self-sufficiency -- it's still a good deal, delivering 563 million pieces of mail a year at low cost without spending a penny of taxpayer money -- that drove Congressional Republicans to enact the PAEA, stripping the USPS of an absurdly large amount of its revenues.

As a result, the USPS has had to close branches in some of the country's most isolated rural areas. Closing rural post offices, especially where there is no broadband internet access, not only won't save much money, but will further isolate these communities.

Ever since the Reagan era, Republicans have been revenue-cutting in an effort to make government services look underfunded and inefficient, with the ultimate goal of privatization. Killing off the USPS means that FedEx and UPS inherit everything.

Congress can stop this from happening by making simple reforms to the USPS, like that proposed last year by Delaware Senator Thomas Carper, whose bill would have allowed the USPS to stretch out payments for future retirees over the next 40 years, recouping $11 billion in overcharges,
Saving the USPS means ending the tyranny of the PAEA.

The USPS is selling off post offices to raise operating cash [SFGate.]

The USPS will shed five big post offices in New York City [Save the Post Office.]

Why does Congressional Representive Michael Grimm seem so clueless about why the Post Office is going backrupt? You'd think his Republican colleagues would have briefed him. [Home Reporter.]

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