The July 28 editorial “A better route for USPS” endorsed the strategy that is being employed by Republican governors who use budget deficits to attack collective-bargaining rights while ignoring other methods of closing budget gaps.
Nearly every analysis of the Postal Service recognizes that the cause of its financial “crisis” is a misguided 2006 congressional mandate requiring the service to pre-fund 75 years’ worth of retiree health benefits over 10 years. No other government agency or private business is required to do this.
The editorial said the mandate is a hedge against a future bailout, but it is the pre-funding requirement that has driven the Postal Service to insolvency. Without it, the service would have had a surplus of $611 million over the past four years. Congress created this mess, and Congress can fix it.
The Postal Service has shed more than 200,000 workers over the past decade. Many independent reports have shown that the service has overfunded its two pension accounts by billions of dollars.
The editorial characterized these overpayments as “a cache that has given those unwilling to change the status quo an argument for postponing critical structural reforms.” Apparently, those “unwilling to change the status quo” include the postmaster general, the Postal Regulatory Commission, the USPS Office of the Inspector General, the Congressional Research Service, and Democratic and Republican members of Congress, all of whom have said the Office of Personnel Management should be able to credit the service’s pension overpayments to the health benefits’ liability.
The policy that the editorial promoted, including “renegotiating collective bargaining agreements,” put The Post squarely in the camp of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) and the Tea Party.
Cliff Guffey, Washington
The writer is president of the American Postal Workers Union.