It’s Monday Oct. 7 and I thought the U.S. government shutdown would be over already and we’d be back to business as usual but so far we’re not.
Maybe the U.S. House of Representatives would rather engage in fruitless and ultimately self-destructive antics than deal with real problems. One of those is the ever –deteriorating but less widely publicized financial problems confronting the U.S. Postal Service.
Even the New York Times has begun to notice Congress’s apparent inattention to the postal issue, even as an aside to criticizing the whole government shutdown charade http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/01/opinion/nocera-those-banana-republicans.html?ref=joenocera&_r=0.
For the past few years the House, led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) has offered unpalatable postal reform bills that would gut the Board of Governors, effectively privatizing the USPS. Now, some argue that the GOP’s next target may indeed be the postal service, according to Salon.com http://www.salon.com/2013/10/02/gops_next_victim_the_postal_service/singleton/.
Maybe some of these Republicans think that if they get away with their government shutdown plan they’ll have an easier time shoving through unpopular postal reform legislation.
On Sept. 30, the USPS once again defaulted on its annual draconian payment of $5.6 billion to the U.S. Treasury to cover the healthcare costs of future retiring employees http://www.chicagotribune.com/health/sns-rt-us-usa-postalservice-finances-20130930,0,2588252.story
When this happened last year, it received a ho-hum reaction from the direct mail industry, which planned mostly to continue carrying on with business as usual and did not fear any serious disruptions in service.
This may have been because this powerful constituency—which accounts for a sizable amount of overall mail volume– isn’t too concerned about postal default Congress isn’t either.
Especially when the USPS has already defaulted on these payments at least two or three times before and nothing happened but a further worsening of the USPS’s financial position.
Meanwhile, the USPS is seeking to negotiate its way out of this obligation, as Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe vaguely described in recent testimony before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs http://about.usps.com/news/national-releases/2013/pr13_078.htm.
But the more Congress continues to ignore the USPS, the more difficult it will find fixing the problem much of which Congress created in the 2006 postal reform law when it mandated the USPS pay this extortive amount to the U.S. Treasury.
Assuming Congress really wants to.