The demise of the U.S. Post Office is imminent and the fault lies squarely in the laps of House Republicans, who have steadfastly refused to take action to correct a situation created in the lame duck session of the 2006 Republican Congress. I wrote about this earlier this year and nothing has changed, except now the post office is facing a loss of $15.9 Billion for fiscal year 2012. Why? Because the 2006 Congress passed legislation requiring the post office to prefund retirement benefits for 75 years. That’s right: SEVENTY-FIVE YEARS! Nowhere else is such a draconian requirement in place. Not in government, not in the private sector.
In a sane world, the post office would be self-sustaining, and it wouldn’t take much to rectify the situation. The Senate has already passed a fix but House Republicans refuse to act on it, instead preferring to continue to require the post office to make a $5.5 Billion annual payment into its pension program. Without the forced payments, the post office would have a $1.5 Billion surplus. Instead it is facing bankruptcy and, ultimately, extinction. And that is exactly what Republicans want.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) introduced legislation in 2011 that would create a control board to oversee postal activities and end to-the-door mail delivery, effectively busting the postal unions and leading to additional layoffs. The reason cited for the need for the extreme legislation was the poor financial position of the USPS. But that situation is one that has been manufactured and nurtured by House Republicans, who are bent on privatizing everything, including one of the oldest, most cost-effective institutions in the country.
Postal workers have gone on hunger strikes to protest the law but so far, House Republicans have turned a blind eye and deaf ear to their pleas, preferring to let the USPS die and be replaced by private sector carriers.
All of us will be impacted if this is allowed to happen but the poor and those living in rural America will bear the brunt. Many people do not realize that the post office goes where UPS, FedEx and a host of other delivery services do not go. In fact, when delivering to rural areas, those companies hand off deliveries to the post office, rather than spend the time and fuel to deliver packages.
There are a lot of issues facing us today and some of them are going to be difficult to solve. This is a no-brainer. We all need to tell Congress to stop obstructing, stop chewing on their sour grapes and fix this NOW. There is already a Senate bill ready to go. It can be done in a matter of minutes. If House Republicans want to show the American people they actually give a damn, this should be first on their list in the lame duck session of 2012.