A picture of Representative Peter A. DeFazio
Peter D.
Democrat OR 4

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  • The Crisis of the United States Postal Service

    by Representative Peter A. DeFazio

    Posted on 2013-02-12

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    DeFAZIO. I rise to speak about yet another phony, created crisis, and that would be the crisis of the United States Postal Service, which we have heard is hemorrhaging--hemorrhaging--money.

    Well, it's kind of interesting. If you look back since in 2006, Congress forced the United States Postal Service to prepay health care retirement benefits for people who have not yet been born who might some day go to work for the Postal Service. Now, if you had trouble following that, I'd understand it. No one else in America, no other business, no other agency of government, as far as I know, no entity in the world is prepaying the anticipated health care costs of people who haven't yet been born, let alone if they're a specific entity, people who haven't yet been born and might go to work for them some day and might retire and might then need health care, but we're making the Postal Service do that.

    Now, I'm not, but the Congress assembled deemed that, snuck it into one of those midnight special bills in a lame-duck session of Congress. So, now the hemorrhaging.

    Well, they're hemorrhaging money, hemorrhaging money. Oh, my God, we must do away with them. That's basically the Republican line here. They, so far, have done nothing to either unshackle the post office so it can deal with some of these problems, and, in fact, have encouraged the most destructive instincts of the idiot who is running the Postal Service, who should be fired by the President, to go to 5-day delivery and to close all the sorting centers.

    {time} 1230 Under the plan of the Postmaster General, it will take longer for a first-class letter to go from my town of Springfield across the river to the city of Eugene than it took Thomas Jefferson to mail a letter from Monticello to the Continental Congress. Yes, really, that's what he's planning. Now, that's not going to cause a bunch of people to abandon the Postal Service--of course not, that will help their revenue. No, it won't.

    With this benign neglect, the indifference, the refusal to act over here in the House, we're watching the Postal Service spiral down the drain, both the good and the bad of the Postal Service.

    If you didn't make them prepay health care retirement benefits for people who haven't yet been born, who haven't yet gone to work for them, over the last 6 years, instead of saying they lost $41,200,000,000, actually, it would come down to about $9 billion. They prepaid $32 billion of health care retirement benefits, $32 billion. That is by far the large majority of their red ink. Just about 80 percent of their red ink is due to them being forced to do something that no other entity on Earth is being forced to do.

    If you want to look for a phony, manufactured crisis, this is it. Yes, they still have a small problem. That would be about a billion and a half dollars a year. If we unshackled them a bit, let them get into some new lines of business--which the Republicans are refusing to do-- if we allowed them to set rates rationally--they've got a couple of lines of business as they call them that make money, and they have others that lose money. But they're allowed only to increase rates-- even if it is losing money to deliver junk mail--by a cost-of-living increase, which it would obviously be less than a penny on junk mail delivery costs. The same on first-class.

    If we allowed them to set their rates reasonably, if we took away this mandate of prefunding retirement health care costs for people who haven't yet been born, who haven't yet gone to work for them, and if we settled up on the old dispute over their overpayment for the civil service retirees who got rolled into the FERS system with the Postal Service, actually we could have a viable entity and one that would continue to serve America into the next century.

    The post office pioneered optical scanning. They used to have some visionary leadership over there. They need new leadership. They need to be unshackled by Congress. They need to have unfair burdens lifted. But they don't need to be destroyed. That's where we're headed, towards the destruction of the Postal Service at this point in time. Some say young people don't use it, no one needs it, who needs it. They're delivering packages for FedEx and UPS to places where FedEx and UPS doesn't want to go. They've partnered with FedEx and UPS. They deliver packages for small businesses and with their one-price package that FedEx and UPS can't afford, which are vital to thousands of small businesses in my State and millions nationwide. They deliver prescriptions. Yes, they deliver prescriptions on Saturdays for veterans and others.

    We need to fix the Postal Service, not destroy it.


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