Interesting story over at MSNBC.com this morning by Bob Sullivan manages to poke a hole in two GOP myths at once. Despite protestations to the contrary from the right, the Post Office proves that a government agency can get the job done right and operate in the black, and the same agency isn’t really broke.
From Sullivan’s story:
You might have heard that the United States Postal Service is in trouble: that it’s losing billions, that it will have to end Saturday service and close branches — and most inflammatory, that it might need a government bailout. Perhaps you heard that the Postal Service couldn’t pay $5.5 billion bill that came due Sept. 30 and that only an emergency postponement saved it from the government’s equivalent of default.
In fact, it’s the Postal Service that’s currently bailing out the U.S. government. Politicians have been raiding Postal Service revenues for years, using them to make the federal deficit appear smaller than it really is. The fiscal gyrations are so twisted that the Postal Service is right now forced to pre-pay health care benefits for employees the agency hasn’t even hired yet — in fact, for many future employees who haven’t even been born yet — all to artificially shrink the federal deficit.
Mr. Sullivan goes on to describe the details of the accounting games that the Congress is playing.
There’s a long and a short story to the tragic tale of Postal Service financial trouble. I’ll start with the short one. Right now, the Postal Service is being forced to pre-pay health benefits for the next 75 years during a 10-year stretch. In the past four years, those prepayments have totaled $21 billion. The agency’s deficit during that time is about $20 billion. Remove these crazy pre-payments — a requirement that no other government agency endures and no private industry would even consider — and the Postal Service would be in the black. READ MORE.
Thanks GOP. Two unpaid for wars, a prescription drug plan for Medicare designed to bankrupt the program, and accounting tricks to have the Post Office look like it needs a bailout. You’ve only proven that it isn’t that government doesn’t work, the problem is that you cannot govern.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the Republicans’ top government cost-cutting advocate in the House and head of the powerful Committee on Oversight, has introduced legislation that would dramatically alter the agency. His Postal Reform Act of 2011 would end Saturday delivery, create a commission to study post office closings and create a Solvency Authority that could break union contracts if the agency fell into the red.
To borrow from the third-graders on South Park… Damn it! They killed the Post Office!