Opinion: The wrong fix for the U.S. Postal Service

Re:U.S. Postal Service needs major fix,” Dec. 25 editorial.

rolando_7By Fredric Rolando – January 4, 2015
Your editorial had the headline right, but not the remedy. In fact, you back legislation (the Carper-Coburn bill) that would worsen the U.S. Postal Service’s financial situation.

To your credit, you note that the Postal Service runs on earned revenue, not taxpayer funds. You also accurately note that most of the red ink stems from a 2006 congressional mandate that the Postal Service pre-fund future retiree health benefits.

But you then inexplicably support calls by some legislators to degrade service to residents and businesses in Denver and throughout the country, proposals that would slow the mail, end Saturday delivery and substitute neighborhood “cluster boxes” for door-to-door delivery— sending residents traipsing around the neighborhood in Colorado weather to get their mail.

It makes no sense to degrade postal networks that are profitable, and have been since October 2012. With the economy gradually improving, letter revenue is once again rising. Meanwhile, skyrocketing online shopping has boosted package revenue, making the Internet a net positive for the USPS — auguring well for the future.

Fiscal Year 2014 saw a $1.4 billion operating profit; fiscal 2015’s first month alone (October) was $633 million in the black.

Beyond inconveniencing Denver’s residents and businesses, reducing services and delivery standards would send the Postal Service on a downward spiral by driving away mail — and revenue. And it would cost jobs. The national mailing industry, which depends on a robust, six-day-a-week Postal Service, employs 7.5 million Americans in the private sector — including 135,000 in Colorado.

PAEA_cartoon2Rather than break what’s working, Colorado’s representatives in Washington should help fix what a lame-duck Congress broke when it made the Postal Service the only agency or company required to pre-fund. No one else is required to do so for even one year; the Postal Service has to pre-fund 75 years into the future and pay for it all over a decade. That $5.6 billion annual charge is the “red ink.”

This is a tale of red ink driven not by technological progress but rather by flawed public policy. Congress needs to address the pre-funding fiasco.

Fredric Rolando is president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, based in Washington, D.C.

via The wrong fix for the U.S. Postal Service – The Denver Post.

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