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Tipsheet

Post Office Insolvency: Less Now or More Later

Author's note: I'll have a full-length piece dealing with the impending Post Office bankruptcy and potential reform measure's coming up in Townhall Magazine. If the future of the USPS concerns you, you won't want to miss it.
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That's the dilemma that faces policymakers when it comes to USPS reform. The Post Office will be in much more dire financial circumstances the more they kick the can down the road. Sens. Joe Lieberman, Susan Collins, Scott Brown and Thomas Carper have co-sponsored legislation that would start structural reforms of the USPS while allowing employee buyouts.

The Left is ideologically wedded to a government-run company, however, and refuses to admit that the Post Office is an unsustainable enterprise as currently constituted. Mail delivery peaked several years ago and, as you may have noticed by what comes to your mailbox, has devolved into a service that delivers mostly advertising and commercial mail. The image of a postal worker delivering letters to grandparents is a relic lost decades ago.

The Lieberman bill would aid the process of shuttering local post offices and mail processing centers in conjunction with recommendations made by the Postmaster General. While the bill doesn't go far enough - refusing to allow the Post Office to delay services - even its incremental approach is vehemently opposed by progressives.

The Nation's John Nichols asserts that the USPS' accelerating losses and looming insolvency is the fault of Congress for mandating a kind of trust fund for retiring USPS workers. The USPS has one of the most comprehensive and lavish health retirement plans offered by any government or pseudo-government agency while also boasting an older workforce facing huge swathes of imminent retirements. Their fiscal problems stem from the fact that, with declining relevancy for physical communications and mail delivery, the USPS has no way to pay off the benefits promised to workers ready to retire.

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The 2006 requirement from Congress for the USPS to establish a trust fund for retiring workers is an attempt to make the financial hit that the USPS is going to take slightly more managable. What the Lieberman bill attempts - and what Darrell Issa's bill takes further in the House - is to reform the way the Post Office works so that they'll have the money to pay off health care retirement benefits both now and later.

Unions have been pushing the myth that they shouldn't have to pay anything now - which just sets up a fiscal apocalypse for the organization further down the road.

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