Letter to the Editor, April 4
Postal service should be protecte
The United States Postal Service (USPS) transports hundreds of billions of pieces of mail a year to addresses everywhere in the United States. It does so with no government subsidies. If you don't use the postal service, you don't pay for it.
Now, like the U.S. economy, the USPS faces a crisis brought on by Republican policies, which Republicans insist only more right-wing policies can solve. USPS faces a crisis brought on by Republican policies, which Republicans insist only more right-wing policies can solve.
USPS has informed Congress that it can't pay $5.5 billion due to a federal retire health fund Sept. 3, raising prospects of default. Republicans, led by Darrell Issa, are demanding layoffs and service cuts. Here's the Republican plan -- burning the Postal Service to save it -- contradicts the stories Republicans tell us about themselves.
Republicans love to contrast the supposedly fair and efficient ways of the private sector with the allegedly bloated, hapless ways of government. That claim's dubious merits, just compare Medicare and private health insurance.
In their last month in the majority in 2006, House and Senate Republicans passed a "postal reform" law requiring USPS, over a decade, to pre-fund its health benefits for the next 75 years.
The Republicans-imposed pre-funding requirement, which postal unions never asked for, has proven to be less a booster shot but a kiss of death. No health plan, public and private, operates under such an extreme mandate -- and no government or business plan is required to be fully funded 75 years ahead of time in order to be considered solvent. Republican demands to lay off 100,000 workers now so that pensions are funded for 75 years are just as cruel a joke as insisting on throwing millions of Americans off Social Security now to improve its financial outlook for 2086.
The bill "was designed to destroy the post office...if they hadn't had that burden, the post office would be in the black...The postal service and its employees don't want a taxpayer bailout," the unions wrote on a joint website. What we do want is the freedom to use our own surplus pension funds to pay down the pre-funding obligation. But this can only happen if Congress changes the current law.
"The current crisis, which really is a manufactured crisis" represents a prime opportunity for right-wing groups that have wanted to bring down the postal service for decades. If given the change, they'll let private companies "cherry pick the profitable parts of the post office and leave the rest. This is the Republicans' magic moment."
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