The Federal Times does a great job summarizing the Congressional game-playing that has resulted in the current postal “crisis”. Here’s your “crisis” in a nutshell- note that it has nothing to do with the Internet, email, or electronic diversion:
Congress set this slow-motion train wreck in motion way back in 2006 when it passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, which required the Postal Service to pre-pay expected health care costs for future retirees within 10 years. Compressing the payment period to just 10 years is why the annual payments are a whopping $5.4 billion to $5.8 billion apiece.
No other organization in the country carries such a burden.
Congress insisted on a 10-year payment period in order to capture the impact of the law on the deficit. The Congressional Budget Office’s arcane “scoring” rules require that the impact only be scored over 10 years. Forcing all liabilities to be pre-paid within 10 years enabled CBO to declare the bill to be deficit-neutral. That, in turn, provided the political cover Republicans needed to support the bill.
Aside from that, however, there was no reason to make the payments so large and to collect them so fast.
The paper goes on to point out that the GOP-controlled House, and Congressman Darrell Issa in particular, have shown “contempt” for the USPS and even for Congress itself:
The House’s failure to act is disgraceful. Through their inaction, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Government Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., are demonstrating contempt for the Postal Service and a lack of respect for the law and for the obligations of their own institution.
Update: Well that was fast! Minutes after I posted the story on twitter, Congressman Dennis Ross responded:
@postalnews fed times is wrong. great reason 2accelerate payment. FACT that USPS was over $100 bil in red 4 ret & health care & decl volume
— Dennis Ross (@RepDennisRoss) July 15, 2012