The right-wing anti-labor lobbying group “Citizens Against Government Waste” didn’t waste any time publicizing today’s OIG report on lax controls over USPS official travel expenses. The CAGW press release, like the earlier comments by Susan Collins, implies that postal employees “expensed” adult entertainment parties, personal computers, and their mortgage payments. The OIG report doesn’t say that, but apparently the story is going to stick unless the USPS can mount an effective PR response. (You would have thought that having known about the contents of this report for quite some time now, the agency would have pre-empted the bad publicity by getting its story out first.)
The CAGW statement goes on to repeat its usual litany of comments about “lavish” union salaries and benefits, distorts the trust fund issue, and says that postal employees are “still partying like itâ€™s 1999”. Whatever that’s supposed to mean.
But the funniest comment is this:
“Any proposal to tinker with the funding mechanism for retiree pension and health insurance liabilities, which are around $90 billion, is another example of USPS kicking the proverbial fiscal can down the road,” said CAGW President Tom Schatz. “The agency is locked into a smothering cost structure”
Schatz conveniently fails to note that the USPS has actually overfunded its pension liabilities, and that the most “smothering cost structure” the service suffers from is the requirement to continue that overfunding.
Schatz concludes by telling us that the USPS should be, you guessed it, privatized. You know, like Sweden.
WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today expressed outrage on behalf of taxpayers at new reports of United States Postal Service (USPS) employees using business credit cards for personal travel, to expense adult entertainment parties, purchase personal computers, and pay their mortgages. The Washington Postâ€™s Ed Oâ€™Keefe details the contents of the USPS Office of Inspector Generalâ€™s report, â€œOver a two-year period, some postal workers used credit cards meant for travel and lodging expenses to buy family members flights to Spain and Italy, purchase Apple computers and make more than 50 purchases at â€˜adult entertainmentâ€™ storesâ€¦All told, the mail agency could have saved more than $600,000 in excessive travel costs during fiscal 2009 and 2010 if it had cracked down on non-compliant workers, the report said.â€
The inappropriate expenses occurred even while the USPS posted $8.5 billion in losses in 2010. It is on track to blow past its $15 billion statutory debt ceiling in September 2011 and is threatening to default on some of its financial obligations later this year after posting a loss of $329 million in the first quarter of 2011. The USPS is again lobbying for a change in the way it funds its retireesâ€™ pension and healthcare benefits in order to forestall further declines in its financial condition. However, in 2009, Congress cut USPSâ€™s retiree health benefit payment by $4 billion to address a significant shortfall, and USPS still recorded a loss of $3.8 billion. In addition, members of Congress have stymied the USPSâ€™ attempts to close unnecessary facilities. Postal management is currently engaged in tense negotiations with one of its unions, the American Postal Workers Union. Union representatives have stated publicly that the union has no intention of relinquishing any of its lavish compensation or benefits, which are the most generous of all federal employees. USPS compensation and benefits comprise 80 percent of its total costs.
â€œAny proposal to tinker with the funding mechanism for retiree pension and health insurance liabilities, which are around $90 billion, is another example of USPS kicking the proverbial fiscal can down the road,â€ said CAGW President Tom Schatz. â€œThe agency is locked into a smothering cost structure that prevents it from streamlining and restructuring to meet the steady decline in postal volume. The Government Accountability Office stated in April, 2010 that the agencyâ€™s business model is obsolete. Yet, postal management tolerate employees who are still partying like itâ€™s 1999. Congress must follow the lead of many other countries, including the United Kingdom, Sweden, and New Zealand, and privatize the postal service,â€ concluded Schatz.