The United States Postal Services is in serious trouble. Currently, Congress is debating how to fix the problem. Particularly during times of fiscal crisis, it is inevitable that there will be sharp disagreements on public policy, I expect it. However, there has been a great deal of misinformation coming from some interested parties that is blatantly untrue, pure demagoguery, or both. I want to set the record straight.
I support H.R. 2309, the Postal Reform Act of 2011. This bill will allow for greater flexibility in terms of postal services, amend current rules and regulations, and generally place the postal service on a sustainable path for the future without bailouts or other unsustainable measures. Unfortunately, this will lead to some painful cuts. While I am sympathetic to the plight of postal workers in a time of fiscal crisis, we must face reality and truly fix the problem.
The postal service will be bankrupt in a matter of months. The organization has not been profitable for the last several years, and lost $8.3
billion last year alone. The postal service is estimated to lose another $9.2 billion in fiscal year 2012. Without serious, immediate changes, postal service will face significantly more layoffs than may be required due to the postal reform legislation.
Others have suggested that these reforms on various interest groups are for spiteful reasons. This could not be further from the truth. In fact, these reforms have nothing to do with any interest group; it has to do with simple math. The postal service is on the road to bankruptcy, and without serious reform, it will go bankrupt. Bankruptcy is bad for union members, veterans, and anybody else who works for, uses, or is associated with the postal service. It is as simple as that.
Another frequent line of attack is the claim that everything with the postal service was fine until 2006. This is inaccurate. At that time Congress passed legislation changing postal pension rules. The 2006 changes to the pension rules were because the postal service faced a serious decline in revenues because of competition with the internet. The postal service was using unsustainable accounting tricks to claim they were still responsibly funding their pension obligations when they in fact were not. Congress changed the rules to stop this thus preserving a sustainable pension fund for retired and current workers.
Alternative legislation favored by some interest groups does nothing to solve the problem. Essentially, all these alternative pieces of legislation do is set up a quasi-bailout of the post office with an influx of taxpayer money, while kicking the can down the road on real reform. Even worse, some of them end the 2006 reforms and create huge taxpayer liability. According to a recent Government Accountability Office report, such a move would result in $85 billion in losses for taxpayers. By necessity, this loss would be funded by the federal government taxing and borrowing. What’s more, the GAO concluded that such legislation would be insufficient to fix the postal service’s debts and deficits.
The postal service has no choice but to adopt aggressive measures to tighten its belt in order to fit the new needs of the 21st century.
I have protected the interests of the rural communities that I represent by ensuring they still have access to postal services. I am sympathetic to the plight of postal workers who may face layoffs. My staff and I visited with all stakeholders multiple times and we are eager to work with them.
But I was elected to make tough decisions. Hard working taxpayers have made clear that they want lawmakers to be good stewards of their money and throwing good money after bad for a system that is outdated and no longer self-sustaining does not accomplish that goal. Our district deserves better than that.