Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) has introduced legislation to try to save the US Postal Service from its incipient bankruptcy, and he is asking for the public to help him pass it.
DeFazio’s bill would repeal the needless requirement — one no other business or entity must face — that the Postal Service pre-fund 75 years’ worth of employee health benefits. That requirement has hugely contributed to the USPS defaulting for the first and then second time in its history last year. Analysis from 2012 estimated that the USPS would have a $1.5 billion surplus without the benefit requirement.
But DeFazio recognizes that facts alone will not influence his colleagues to take up and pass the legislation, so he has also turned to the White House’s petition platform, We The People, to petition President Obama to take a stand against the health benefit requirement. He also points out many of the other flaws in how Congress has managed the postal service:
About 80% of USPS financial losses since 2007 are due to a Congressional mandate to prefund 75 years of future retiree health benefits over 10 years. In 2012 USPS lost a record $15.9 billion, but $11.1 billion of that loss went to prefund healthcare. This must change.
USPS shouldn’t move to 5-day delivery. This would only save 3%, risk further revenue losses, and slow mail delivery.
USPS needs to re-establish overnight delivery standards to ensure the timely delivery of mail and prevent the closure of mail plants.
USPS needs to generate more revenue by ending a 2006 ban prohibiting USPS from offering new products and services.
Does the Administration support HR 630 and S 316 to make these changes, save American jobs, and allow USPS to remain competitive?
Some conservatives have made the argument that having a national postal service is frivolous in the age of private delivery companies and email, but that ignores the fact that rural Americans don’t enjoy those services with the same regularity that urban and suburban Amercians do. For the elderly and for rural Americans, closed post offices and slowed delivery mean less consistent communication. It can also mean more economic inequality.
President of the National Association of Letter Carriers Fredric Rolando told ThinkProgress that he was happy with DeFazio’s efforts, which he called a fight “for meaningful comprehensive postal reform aimed at strengthening the Postal Service so it can continue to provide Americans with the world’s best and most efficient delivery service.”