From the American Postal Workers Union:
When Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew told Congress last week of plans to take money from two federal employee retirement funds to avoid defaulting on the national debt, there was hardly a peep. No outrage. No dismay. Not even a question.
APWU President Cliff Guffey wants to know why not.
Guffey is ticked off because the federal government is taking a chunk of money that properly belongs to the Postal Service – while the USPS teeters on the edge of bankruptcy.
“Postal customers and employees have overpaid $3 billion into the Federal Employees Retirement System, but Congress has refused to return the surplus – even while the USPS is forced to shutter thousands of post offices, close hundreds of mail sorting facilities, lower service standards, and delay mail delivery,” he said.
“The government is helping itself to money that was paid by postal customers and employees, not taxpayers,” Guffey pointed out.
“The federal government won’t let the Postal Service touch that money, but they’re taking it themselves,” the union president said. “How brazen can they be?”
“The government has borrowed before from federal employee pension accounts and repaid the money,” Guffey noted. “We fully expect it to be repaid this time as well. But that’s not the point.”
In addition to the federal pension funds, the Treasury is tapping the controversial Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund. “The one that’s bankrupting the USPS,” Guffey said.
“The fund has more than $46 billion in it that the government won’t let the Postal Service use, even though the agency is on the verge of a financial collapse,” he said, “but they’re helping themselves to it.”
Congress created the fund in 2006 when it passed the PAEA, which forces the Postal Service to pre-fund a 75-year liability in a 10-year period. The payments, which are approximately $5 billion annually, account for approximately 70 percent of the Postal Service’s current net deficit for the period from 2007 to 2012.
“Congress insists the USPS must pre-fund. They say the money must be there, but they don’t object when the government grabs it,” Guffey said.