Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 23 Share on Twitter 1 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
General News    H3'ed 6/18/12

The Myth of the Postal Service's Finances

By       (Page 1 of 1 pages)   No comments
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Robert Weiner
Become a Fan
  (4 fans)
By: Robert Weiner and George Clingan
Originally published in The Des Moines Register

The future of the U.S. Postal Service has been in limbo for several years. It lost an astounding $25.4 billion between 2007 and 2011 and has already lost $3.2 billion in the first quarter of 2012. The service is on the road to bankruptcy.

The Des Moines Register reported last month that Iowa narrowly avoided 178 closures that the agency planned as part of a national cutback of 3,700 post offices. Because of political pressure against the closings, in their place, and for now, many outposts will see dramatically shorter operating hours.

The health of the Postal Service lies largely in the hands of Congress, which has made a tremendous accounting strategy error. In 2006, President George W. Bush signed the Postal Accountability Act that requires the agency for 10 years to pre-pay retiree pensions 75 years in advance. As a consequence, the agency has added a whopping $5.5 billion annually to its balance sheet and will continue to do so until 2017.

The post office is a part of our national identity. The Constitution of 1789 empowers Congress "to establish post offices and post roads" and "to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers." The post office helped to link together our fledgling nation. The first postmaster general was Benjamin Franklin.

Today, the agency maintains 32,000 outposts and employs more than 600,000 citizens, the second largest employer after Walmart. It supports every community in the country and provides the most efficient and cheapest delivery service among the world's top 20 largest economies.

The pre-payment strategy could bankrupt the post office as early as this year. No other government agency is required to pre-pay retiree pensions to this extent. Most agencies prepay pensions for 20 to 30 years.

It's true that the Postal Service is in need of restructuring to
accommodate the decline in mail demand and adapt to the 21st century. However, the mails provide an important service to the public that is as valuable as education and defense. They cannot be replicated by the private sector. Just try sending a letter or light present or check to someone for 45 cents by any other carrier.

We cannot rely on the Internet to service our communication needs, nor could we rely on United Parcel Service or FedEx to pick up all of the slack. And they would they do it for the price.

The absence of the Postal Service would disproportionately hurt poor communities and individuals -- those with the least access to the Internet depend on the mail to pay bills and taxes and to stay in touch with friends and family. A private sector solution would not serve all communities equally and would subject postage to market prices or higher. We don't want to pay dollars instead of pennies for the right to show our family and friends we love them.

It is paramount that Congress defends this important institution, lest it become a skeleton of its former self, or worse -- completely dismantled. Congress can take the first step toward saving the Post-Office by passing H.R. 1351 proposed by Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., designed to eliminate various accounting games that have for years hijacked postal funds for the U.S. Treasury. Four Iowans are cosponsors of this bipartisan legislation: David Loebsack, D-Iowa City, Bruce Braley, D-Waterloo, Leonard Boswell, D-Des Moines, and Thomas Latham, R-Clive. The bill would be a financial lifesaver -- stopping $55 billion to $86 billion of potentially unnecessary post office overpayments to the two federal retirement programs.

Despite the fact that the bill, introduced in April last year, has 229 co-sponsors, it has yet to reach a vote on the House floor. House Government Reform Chairman Darryl Issa, R-Calif., is blocking it because he "wants to privatize everything, and destroy union jobs," according to Sally Davidow, communications director for the American Postal Workers Union.

Thus far Congress has shown itself incapable of defusing the pension pre-pay time bomb. If this trend continues, the Postal Service may as well start packing up in preparation for its new home -- in national museums.

Must Read 1   News 1   Valuable 1  
Rate It | View Ratings

Robert Weiner Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Robert Weiner, NATIONAL PUBLIC AFFAIRS AND ISSUES STRATEGIST Bob Weiner, a national issues and public affairs strategist, has been spokesman for and directed the public affairs offices of White House Drug Czar and Four Star General Barry (more...)

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Follow Me on Twitter     Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Why Do Conservatives Vote Against Their Own Interest?

Jeb Bush's Elephant in the Room: Role in Bush v. Gore Recount

Mueller's End Game: Maybe As Soon As Trump Wants, But Not How He'd Like

Food Stamp Myth Busting

Iran: Nuclear Weapons or Peaceful Energy?

Bad money vs. bad money -- how Denver ballot measure could be blueprint for getting money out of politics

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend