7/19/2013 3:45 PM ET|
Congress gets serious about saving USPS
Rep. Darrell Issa has already circulated a draft proposal for a bill that indicates his willingness to bolt together a bipartisan solution.
By now, most people know the U.S. Postal Service is on the brink of insolvency.
But in the last few years, Congress has sometimes acted as though it was indifferent to the agency's troubles and the possibility that it might require a taxpayer bailout.
Now, Republicans and Democrats in the House seem to have collectively awakened to the crisis.
On Wednesday members of both parties expressed hope that they would shortly pass legislation to fix the postal service at a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing.
"The need for a bill is urgent," said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the committee's chairman. "We intend to do it in the next few weeks."
Issa has already circulated a draft proposal for a bill that indicated his willingness to bolt together a bipartisan solution.
One of the primary threats to the Postal Service's survival is a requirement that it set aside $5.5 billion every year to pre-fund future retiree health-care costs.
Given the rapid decline of first-class mail usage, the USPS can no longer to afford to do so.
Issa's proposal would allow the Postal Service to calculate these costs based on estimates of what it will actually owe rather than making a fixed annual payment.
This could reduce the agency's annual expenses for both present and future retiree health benefits from $8.5 billion to somewhere between $2 billion and $5 billion. That's likely to win over Democrats.
Meanwhile, Democrats have introduced a postal reform bill of their own with Republican-friendly elements. On Wednesday, Issa embraced a proposal to limit rural post office closings.
He announced at the hearing that he was abandoning his push to do away with the Postal Service's no-layoff policy, which, of course, is highly unpopular with postal workers' unions.
Though this surprised some Democrats, Issa is still pursuing the end of the agencies no-layoff policy; he has simply changed his tactics.
The two political parties still have substantial differences when it comes to saving the Postal Service. Issa is set on ending Saturday mail delivery, which the public supports.
By and large, Democrats insist on maintaining six-day service. But if House Democrats and Republicans can maintain their newfound zeal for postal reform, they might even avert a bailout at USPS.
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VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
It used to be first class subsidized the advertising. Make the advertisers pay more. Less junk mail means everyone wins.
Go to FedX or UPS, and tell them you want to mail a letter to the other side of the country and see how much it costs.
The USPS runs very close to a net zero profit. That's the point. It's not a business to make profit and give it to investors and owners. It's here to provide a service to the public on a not for profit basis.
The current "crisis" is artificial and caused by congress putting unrealistic funding requirements to fund retirements for "future workers" that haven't been born yet.
With no oversight and no consequences for poor management the different craft managers feel they are entitled to disregard the contractually obligated mandates thereby causing greivances to be filed AND WON by the unions. These alone cost the postal service upwards of one hundred MILLION (nationwide) in payouts.
Make EVERY manager responsible for violating the contract through real and permanent consequences like dismissal. That would be a good start to running the post office like a business.
If the USPS is to be saved, it must be run like a business and not like a branch of the government. Right now, at best, the USPS is designed to only break even and it has never done that. Raising the postage by one penny or two pennies is not going to solve the problem. If the USPS is paying for insurance of its employees and retirement for former employees, it must begin acting as a business and not as a government office. Each local postmaster must begin looking at profit (how to make it and what to do with it).
Cut their bloated benefits and reduce the number of days of service. Problem solved
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