Thoughts on cutting Saturday postal services

February 16, 2013

The recent Postal Service plan to cut selected Saturday services in order to deal with several challenging financial issues represents a reasonable first step; I hope it is not the first step on a slippery slope that eventually leads to the demise of this iconic, effective American institution. Unfortunately, media accounts that offer the full story on how we got to this point are rare.

The move to cut USPS services and to defame this productive federal agency (one that has offered decent paying jobs to millions) started with legislation passed in 2006 during a lame duck session of a Republican congress. The 2006 law requires the Postal Service to fund its retirement accounts for the next 75 years, all during a 10-year window (translating into an additional $5.5 billion per year of funds that need to be raised in each of those 10 years). No other business or agency faces, by law, such ludicrous regulations. Essentially, the USPS is being required to fund a pension system for employees who aren’t yet working there.  More recent bipartisan legislation addressed a variety of cost cutting actions, but it left in place many of the restrictions on pricing and services that have crippled the postal service's ability to compete.

The rants by GOP pundits and politicians about the financial problems and alleged mismanagement of the USPS have been designed to misguide and misinform the public. For a quick reality check, review this Washington post article by Brad Plumer and this February, 2013 piece by Jesse Lichtenstein in Esquire.

If allowed to implement its own proposed business plan, the USPS (which takes no tax dollars except to pay for mailing voter materials to disabled and overseas Americans) will surmount its various financial challenges. Why, then, are congressional Republicans on a mission to destroy the USPS? Because they seek to privatize any government service they can, they’d love to get their hands on the billions of dollars in the pension pre-fund account and they want to chip away at the union infrastructure and voting bloc of the USPS.

Contact your federal, state and local politicians/representatives and let them know how important postal services are to you. And elect Democrats to office - they support agencies like the USPS, agencies that provide solid employment opportunities for middle/working class folks.

Dennis B. Steigerwalt

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