uncertain future of the US Postal Service. And how a that future was
needlessly jeopardized by a Republican congress and President Bush:
Take the most contentious issue: the seventy-five years' worth ofWe can already see how inconvenient life can be without a post office
future-retiree health benefits that in 2006 a lame-duck session of
Congress legislated the postal service prepay over the following ten
years as part of a broad overhaul of the way the postal service
operates. No other government agency must do this, and most private
companies would have spread those payments over forty years. But the
postal service was flush at the time, and Congress figured out that
since health-care payments are counted as general government revenue,
it could use them to prop up its own books. (Five-and-a-half billion
dollars a year coming in from the postal service was $5.5 billion less
Congress would have to cut elsewhere to remain budget-neutral, as the
Bush administration was demanding.) But then the economy crashed and
with it the amount of first-class mail being sent around the country.
Suddenly a law designed to keep the postal service solvent in the long
term began bankrupting it. Of the $15.9 billion the postal service
lost last year, 70 percent — $11.1 billion — was in future health-care
in Carroll Gardens / Cobble Hill. It's a perennial quality of life
complaint. But at least we have offices in Park Slope, Red Hook, and
Downtown. Just think about the impact of shuttering post offices and
shutting down Saturday service on rural communities.
It's bad policy and its relatively easy to fix. Somebody tell the Republican
ideologues in the House of Representatives.