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Congress can fix its postal woes

2:50 PM, Dec. 2, 2011 by Chet McKee It is important that we all understand why we are losing the general mail facility. The Republicans like to repeat the myth that the Post Office is not profitable and receives bailouts. That is false. The cause of the financial distress is a Congressional act designed for the sole purpose of destroying the the largest governmental union and to transfer postal service to private industry (i.e. Wall Street). In 2006, a lame duck GOP Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA). It was signed into law by President G.W. Bush on Dec. 20, 2006. The Republican majority insisted it be passed by voice vote with no record of how anyone voted. The primary provision of the PAEA was to mandate that the Postal Service fully pre-fund future retiree health benefits for the next 75 years and to do it within a 10-year window. This means that the Postal Service is required to pay the U.S. Treasury $5.5 billion each Sept. 30. This pay for the future retirement health benefits of people who havent even been born yet. The Postal Service is the only entity that is mandated to do this. No government agency, corporation or organization is required to fully pre-fund future retirees health benefits, let alone for 75 years ... in 10 years. Without the PAEA, the USPS has had a net profit of $611 million. The savvy management at the USPS was still able to come up with the funds. Congressional mandates have caused the USPS to overpay into its two retirement systems, the Civil Service Retirement System by $50 billion, and the Federal Employees Retirement System around $7 billion. Congress can fix the problem by passing H.R 1351, the United States Postal Service Pension Obligation Recalculation and Restoration Act of 2011. This bill does not cut jobs or services. The bill was introduced by Steven Lynch and has 211 cosponsors. This bill will not cost the citizens of the United States a penny. It will simply transfer the overpayments in the retirement system into the future retiree health care obligation. This bill would make the USPS the only company in the United States with two fully funded pensions and a fully funded current and future retiree health care benefits plan while running at a net profit. Hows that for sound business practice? The Republicans want to privatize the Post Office. Do you really think that a private company will deliver to every address in the United States for 44 cents? Not likely. This is a union-bashing money grab by Wall Street facilitated by their employees in Congress. Chet McKee is a former naval officer and aviator, paramedic and educator. He is currently a speech pathologist working with hearing impaired children. He lives in Fairview.