Senator Tom Carper has unveiled a “countdown clock” on his official web site warning that there are only 13 days left until “USPS facilities shut down”
If the U.S. House of Representatives fails to pass a bill to reform the U.S. Postal Service by May 15th, the Postal Service could move forward with closing over 1,000 post offices and mail distribution centers across the country. Although the Postal Reform Act of 2011 was passed out of the relevant House committee in October 2011, leaders in the House of Representatives have yet to schedule a vote on the bill. The Senate, however, passed a bipartisan postal reform bill, the 21st Century Postal Service Act, on April 25, 2012.
If the House fails to act by the May 15th deadline, it could accelerate an already deteriorating financial situation at the U.S. Postal Service that would threaten a mailing industry that employs 8.5 million people and generates $1 trillion in economic activity each year. Simply put, we can’t let that happen. The House must act.
The Carper clock is aimed at getting the Republican controlled House to do something about the USPS. While the Senate produced a bipartisan bill, the only bill with any possibility of getting a vote in the House is the bill authored by Darrell Issa, and thus far co-sponsored by exactly one other congressman, Darrell’s faithful sidekick, Dennis Ross. There is another bill, introduced by Massachusetts Congressman Stephen Lynch, that would allow the USPS to use the surplus funds it has already “loaned” the Treasury to meet its financial obligations. Despite the fact that Lynch’s bill is co-sponsored by a majority of House members, it has been buried by Ross and Issa- the bill was referred to Ross’s subcommittee over a year ago, and hasn’t been heard from since.
You might recall that Issa tried his hand at a “USPS default” countdown clock last fall, counting down to the end of the fiscal year, when the USPS would be unable to meet Congress’s demand for another $5.5 billion for its “trust fund”. Unfortunately for Darrell, his colleagues decided that maybe it wasn’t such a swell idea to force an American institution like the post office into a sham “bankruptcy”, so they kicked the can down the road, and Darrell had to swap his countdown clock for a meter showing how much money the USPS “crisis” was “Already Costing Taxpayers”. The impact of the revised clock was blunted considerably by the fact that another page explained that these were only “potential” costs. Darrell also didn’t bother to mention that all of the money the USPS has borrowed from the Treasury went straight back into the Treasury in the PAEA trust fund account, along with another $30 billion or so of past USPS profits.
It’s gratifying to know that members in both houses, and on both sides of the aisle have mastered the art of placing neat little widgets on their web sites. Maybe now they can get back to doing what we pay them to do- pass some legislation, fixing the blunder they made with PAEA in 2006, and addressing the real problems the USPS has with declining volumes and misplaced Congressional micro-management.