Congressman Dennis Ross, chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees the US Postal Service, is a big Facebook and Twitter user. Unfortunately, he seems to be using the social networks to spread misinformation.
Last night, in a discussion on the need for pre-funding of USPS future retiree health benefits, Ross had this to say:
And before anyone says USPS doesnt take taxpayer dollars, USPS retirement HC and pensions, and USPS Health Insurance is a guaranteed federal benefit, so in the end, taxpayers are on the hook for payment.
While USPS retirement pensions are guaranteed by the US Government, the relevance of that assertion is questionable, since there is evidence that the USPS has been overpaying its share of CSRS pensions for years, and even OPM admits that its FERS account has a surplus of almost $7 billion. What would happen if the USPS stopped paying its share of CSRS or FERS contributions? OPM would stop crediting service time to USPS employees for purposes of annuity calculation. (OPM has already made that veiled threat in its response to the USPS’s demand that its existing overfunding of FERS be exhausted before it gives the fund any more money). And in its report on the USPS financial relief proposals, OPM made it quite clear that the health benefits of USPS retirees are not guaranteed by anyone but the USPS. The agency went so far as to suggest that it would “disenroll” USPS retirees from FEHB if the USPS stopped making its contributions. Doesn’t sound like much of a guarantee.
And over the weekend, in response to a question about where Congressman Ross’s political contributions come from, he had this to say:
Kevin, go to fec.gov and click the map for 2010. You can see everyone who gave me money. I would suggest you look at my Democrat opponent and see how much of your union dues went to her.
Congressman Ross knows (or certainly should know) that no union dues went to his opponent- the PACS sponsored by labor unions rely on voluntary contributions from their members, not union dues. And it might be pointed out that Lori Edwards, Ross’s 2010 opponent received a paltry $10,000 from the APWU PAC. Ross’s boss on the oversight committee, Darrell Issa, on the other hand received over four times that amount from postal labor union PACs, as we reported on Sunday.
Update: Congressman Ross has responded via twitter:
The Congressman is absolutely right. Federal pensions (as opposed to USPS retiree health benefits) are an obligation of the US Government. I’m not sure why he thinks that’s an issue, though, since I stated that myself in the original post. My point was that if the USPS were to unilaterally stop making employer contributions to the FERS and CSRS retirement fund, OPM has implied that it would stop crediting USPS employees with service time towards their annuity calculation. That would relieve OPM of any further additional liability for the retiree’s annuity, which would presumably be calculated as if the employee had stopped working when the USPS contributions stopped. There would be no impact on current retirees, since the USPS stopped making contributions when those people retired. If OPM’s position is correct, the Federal Government is only guaranteeing pensions that are already paid for in full by USPS.
Hmmm… guess Dennis didn’t have an answer, so he decided to change the subject?