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Dennis Ross gets it wrong again

I’m flattered that Congressman Ross reads our blog (or at least the headlines feed on Twitter). But his contempt for the truth can be breathtaking- even for a politician. Here’s his response to our latest item on the GAO report on options for the USPS, where we pointed out that GAO ignored the fact that all of the USPS’s losses since 2006 are due to the prefunding requirement:

in reply to @postalnews

@postalnews the bait and switch to “prefunding” focus tacit admission that GAO was right – no overpayment. End of story.
Oct 21 via webFavoriteRetweetReply

Note that Dennis doesn’t actually dispute what we said- he can’t, at least not without lying. So instead he tries to confuse the issue by bringing in the previous GAO report on the alleged CSRS overcharges, and accusing us of a “bait and switch”. Dennis would like to give the impression that we only started talking about the prefunding issue after GAO produced its report denying the USPS was overcharged for CSRS pensions by $50-75 billion. But Dennis knows that’s a lie. In March, for instance, we offered Dennis a little history lesson on the prefunding issue. We provided an even more detailed accounting of the history of prefunding in “Postal Ponzi Scheme” back in 2009, long before Dennis was elected to Congress!

At the same time. our coverage of the alleged CSRS overcharges has been even-handed. In our story in March on the IRET report on the overcharge issue, I wrote:

While IRET is a well known right wing “think tank” financed by, among others, the Scaife and Koch family foundations, it’s difficult to argue with one crucial point raised by the report: even if one accepts the proposition that the USPS overpaid the Treasury by $75 billion since 1971, it isn’t owed any money.

That conclusion stems from the simple fact of the USPS rate setting process- because the USPS was required to break even over time, its rates took into consideration all of its expenses- including the alleged $75 billion overcharge. Had the USPS been charged $75 billion less, its rates would have been proportionately lower, leaving its cumulative net income unchanged.

So no, Dennis, I’m not doing bait and switch. I’ve been talking about prefunding for years, and I’ve also pointed out the holes in the CSRS overcharge argument. But then, I’m just a blogger, not one of those “lying politicians” you talk about on your Facebook page.

Twitter / @RepDennisRoss: @postalnews the bait and s ….

Update: a few minutes after that tweet, Dennis had an unusual attack of almost telling the truth:

PostCom2PostCom
in reply to @PostCom2

@PostCom2 requiring 6 day is no different than other Congressional meddling. Distorts USPS ability to act as an indep business.
Oct 21 via webFavoriteRetweetReply

“Other Congressional meddling”? You mean like, say, the annual $5.5 billion trust fund charge? Doesn’t that really distort “USPS ability to act as an indep business”? Think about it, Dennis…

  • M. Jamison

    Postal News – you have been consistently even handed and factual on these issues. And, as you’ve pointed out more than once, the CSRS issue has never been cut and dried because it was the ratepayers that overpaid. What I find more important about this particular issue is that the original PRA legislation and the subsequent adjustments never really properly valued the Postal Service or gave it a reasonable footing that could lead to sustained success. The monopoly privileges have been consistently overvalued which made the original construction, including the accounting for benefits and obligations, questionable.
    The ideologues who see privatization as a panacea are so imprisoned by their visions of a free market Utopia that they simply cannot honestly account for facts that don’t support their outcomes. The only solace I can find in all of this is that if and when Ross and his ilk are successful in dismantling the Postal Service, their cronies in the direct mail industry are likely to find they’ve killed their golden goose.

  • brian

    The idea of placing a monetary value on the monopoly, and even on the postal infrastructure, has always been a phony issue. It is based on treating the USPS as if it were some outside entity out to further its own ends. It isn’t- it belongs to the American people. The idea that the USPS “owes” something in return for being “given” that monopoly and all that real estate is ludicrous. It all belonged to us when it was the POD, and it all belongs to us now when it’s the USPS.

  • M. Jamison

    I won’t disagree with your position on the monopoly but the simple fact is that hasn’t been the prevailing view and each succeeding piece of legislation culminating in PAEA took us further away from the idea that the Postal Service was a piece of the national infrastructure owned by the American people in total. The monopoly argument has always been a straw man but it is one that gets constantly raised and it’s an argument that underpins much of the charge and mission of the PRC.
    Yes, it all belongs to us, the Postal Service, dedicated to universal service is the ultimate definition and example of a public good. It appears though that very few people in a position to support the Postal Service, whether at HQ or in Congress understand that.

  • Barnstorm

    With everything Mr Ross is shovelling into the public dialogue about the Postal Service, it’s a wonder he doesn’t wear overalls to Congress. Muck those stalls Dennis!

  • frank

    Lets start by giving the USPS equipment that holds up to expectations, and requirements. Replace vehicles that are 30 yrs old and cost more to repair than they are worth. Scanners that actually can scan, and upload informtion needed. Facilities that are modern and efficient. Allow supervisors to supervise instead of using them as data input employees. Inpower Postmasters, managers and employees instead of playing monday morning quaterback every hour. Trust your craft employees.

    When the USPS eliminates district positions, get those employees out of their old chairs and reassign them to the field instead of the opposite. This is just some suggestions that would reduce the cost of labor and increase customer service. Eliminate processes and reports that are too long, take too much time and are useless to anyone. Stop using 20th century mentality in a 21st century world!

    Get rid of ODIS, EXFC, Mystery shopper and other useless programs. Use that funding to purchase vehicles and update facilities!