U.S. Postal Service faces unfair, unequal burdens

This is a response to Minnesota Daily reader Ralph Gilbertsen’s letter “We must save the U.S. Postal Service” in the June 20 issue of the Daily. I agree with his points, but he misses the elephant in the room.

According to Terry Grant, president of the Ohio Postal Service, “In 2006 Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act that required the Postal Service to fund future retiree health care premiums for 75 years within a 10-year period ending in 2016. This mandate requires the Postal Service to pay $5.5 billion a year for a total of $55 billion.”

No other government agency has to make this kind of pre-fund payment. Because of this law, the agency is pre-funding health care premiums for workers who haven’t even been hired. Basically, the Postal Service must start out each year $5.5 billion in debt. Independent audits have shown that without this pre-fund requirement, the Postal Service would have had income exceeding expenses for this time period.”

Congress has forced the USPS to pre-fund future health care costs for retirees who haven’t been born yet. Be sure to note how the USPS can’t raising rates in order to generate the money to fund the mandate.

No other federal agency has this burden. If the Republican-controlled Congress had not mandated this $5.5 billion payment per year, the Postal Service would be in the black. The long-term viability of this agency is in doubt because Republicans in Congress wanted it that way, no other reason.

Remember, the USPS is a government agency. It’s not supposed to turn a profit, it’s supposed to break even. Funny how no one says the defense department is in trouble when they need $1 trillion a year from taxpayers. If the DOD had to pre-fund retiree’s health care for the next 75 years, then based on next year’s VA budget request of $140 billion they would have to sock away $10.5 trillion over the next 10 years; in other words, they’d have 10 straight years where they had $0 in their budget for anything else.

If it sounds stupid when put that way, that’s because it is stupid.

And remember that $5.5 billion that the USPS is paying each year? The federal government takes that and spends it. That’s right, they end up with the same IOUs that the Social Security Trust Fund has. And we all know how motivated the Congress is to find the necessary funds to redeem those.

Lastly, look at who the privatized carriers, such as Fedex or UPS, use for last-leg delivery in many rural areas. In these areas it’s the USPS. If this attempt to kill off the USPS succeeds, get ready for $8-10 letters, if some letters can be delivered at all.