Editorial: Republican mandates killing United States Postal Service, not decline in ‘snail mail’
Kaye Thornbrugh, Managing Editor
February 11, 2013
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night can stay these couriers from the swift competition of their appointed rounds—but Republican mandates certainly can.
Starting in August, the USPS will stop some Saturday delivery. But let’s not all panic at once. Only first-class mail will be affected, which means that parcels, mail-order medicines, priority and express mail will still arrive on Saturdays.
However, the loss of even a portion of Saturday mail delivery will have a negative impact on communities throughout the country, especially in rural areas. Coeur d’Alene may seem like a sparkling metropolis when compared to most of the sprawling Northwestern wilderness, but we still rely on mail service to conduct commerce. Look to Sandpoint, where there are still areas without Internet access or even cell phone service, and you’ll see exactly why we need the United States Postal Service.
How did this happen? How could Saturday delivery slip away? Contrary to popular opinion, the U.S. Postal Service is not outdated. It’s not the weak gazelle in the herd, taken down by the cheetah that is email. The Internet isn’t killing the Postal Service: Republicans are.
Proposed by Republicans and signed by President George W. Bush in 2006, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act mandates that the USPS make payments of between $5.4 and $5.8 billion dollars to the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund each year from 2007 to 2016, to prefund 75 years of costs.
That’s right. The Postal Service must prefund 75 years of retirement benefits for its employees over the course of ten years. This requirement is unique to the USPS. Nobody else does it. Why would they? It’s completely unnecessary: According to the post office Inspector General, the pension is actually over-funded. The Postal Service’s reserves for retiree health care are much higher than in the federal government as a whole, the military and almost allFortune 1000 companies.
When Congressional Republicans created the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, they forced the Postal Service, which operates without a single cent of taxpayer money, to prefund pensions for mailmen whose great-great-grandparents were a year old the day President Bush signed the bill. If not for the PAEA mandate, the United States Postal Service would be profitable.
Why would Congressional Republicans propose legislation so clearly designed to cripple the United States Postal Service? To prove that government services can’t work, and to force the government to sell the Postal Serivce to a private company like FedEx or UPS.
Make no mistake. The USPS isn’t just dying. It’s being murdered, and we are all witnesses.
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