As most readers of this blog know, the US Postal Service does not receive any taxpayer dollars. Since its founding in 1971, the USPS has paid for its operations out of its own revenues. Far from being a burden on the taxpayer, the USPS has, according to reports by the Inspector General and outside auditors, been overcharged by $50-75 billion for its employees pensions, thus subsidizing the Federal Treasury. In addition, in 2006, Congress and President Bush imposed an additional $5.5 billion annual tax on the USPS. The tax was supposedly to finance the health benefits of potential future postal retirees. In an amazing coincidence, the $5.5 billion was exactly the amount OPM had discovered it was overcharging the USPS each year.
Better yet, because the retirement fund the $5.5 billion went to was “on-budget”, the USPS payments would artificially decrease the deficit by that amount. In other words, the USPS has given Congress an extra $5.5 billion a year to play with!
All of which makes you appreciate the utter cynicism of multimillionaire career politician Darrell Issa’s latest stunt- a web site called “savingthepostalservice.com”. Unlike the US Postal Service itself, the site is paid for by taxpayer dollars, to which Darrell obviously has free access.
Not surprisingly, Darrell’s web site doesn’t explain any of the facts behind the $5.5 billion tax on the USPS- it talks about lavish spending, but fails to mention the fact that without Congress’s mandates, the USPS would currently have zero debt and access to a $15 billion credit line to help it through the recession and rightsizing its infrastructure.
Darrell has introduced a bill to allow the USPS to throw out the labor agreements the USPS freely entered into with its union. The law also adds two additional layers of bureaucracy to the postal service, and could saddle it with an additional $10 billion in debt- all the better to achieve Darrell’s apparent goal- the elimination or privatization of the US Postal Service.
Darrell didn’t always feel this way about the USPS and its employees- as recently as a year ago he was still actively seeking the support (and accepting the contributions) of postal employee organizations.
What could possibly have turned Darrell around? It couldn’t be that he realized there was much more money to be made from the likes of the Koch Brothers and their “Tea Party” organization could it?
Here’s the text that appears on Darrell’s taxpayer financed website:
p>The United States Postal Service is bleeding money – $8.5 billion just last year. It’s also bleeding business – mail volume is down 20% since 2006 and not coming back. Just as trains replaced the pony express, the Internet has become the modern Postal Service’s greatest competition. That’s not going to change.
A better USPS, however, is possible. Explore the site. Get the facts. Learn about the Issa-Ross Postal Reform Act. Advise Congress on how to fix Postal budget shortfalls with the Postal Reform App.
Americans deserve an efficient USPS that delivers for decades. But misguided action – or none at all – could saddle taxpayers with a multi-billion dollar bailout for the Postal Service. The clock is ticking…
If you would like to tell Darrell what you think of his use of your money, he’s on Twitter at @DarrellIssa and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/darrellissa. (Yes, you’ll have to hold your nose and pretend to “like” Darrell if you want to post a comment…)