by Richard Thayer
You would think that with unemployment being so high and confidence in Congress being so low, that members of Congress would be as busy as little beavers trying to improve both.
But, alas, that is not the case.
Take for example the Republican-controlled House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Last year, under the auspices of lending a helping hand to the Postal Service during its financial crisis, committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) (pictured at left)
sponsored H.R. 2309, the Postal Reform Act of 2011.
To say this bill would help the Postal Service is like saying throwing a drowning man an anvil will keep him afloat.
The bill has a multitude of flaws, not the least of which is its completely ignoring one of the Postal Service’s biggest reasons for its financial woes: the congressionally mandated law requiring it to pre-fund its retirees’ health benefits to the tune of $5.5 billion a year.
In addition to not addressing the Postal Service’s current financial problems, the bill would cause a lot of additional problems, contributing to the nation’s unemployment numbers and making our overall economic situation even more dire. The bill would eliminate tens of thousands of good-paying, middle-class jobs and would cut service, ultimately leading to the destruction of the Postal Service as we now know it.
Ironically, the folks who adamantly espouse the Constitution and less government interference, are aggressively promoting a bill that would alter the Constitution and would add–not subtract–more bureaucracy to the Postal Service.
This added bureaucracy would include a commission that would have the authority to nullify all collective bargaining agreements and to “reject, modify or terminate” any clause of a labor agreement under the guise of saving the Postal Service money.
Other provisions in the bill would cut the pay and benefits of postal employees.
The bill, which has been in limbo for the last little bit, is due to resurface later this month, possibly as soon as July 12, this from Rep. Dennis Ross (who interestingly enough is the sole co-sponsor of the bill), chairman of the Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service and Labor Policy.
In an effort to get the required 218 votes for passage, Rep. Issa is expected to make amendments that would protect rural post offices and remove language reducing discounts for non-profit mailers.
Committee Democrats, on the other hand, are poised to make an amendment that would replace all of the bill’s language with that of H.R. 1262 or S. 1789. All of this should make for lively debate.
The NALC and other postal unions are opposed to H.R. 2309 and are supporting a much better bill, H.R. 1351 ( and it has 228 more cosponsors than H.R. 2309). Although H.R. 1351 fails to address the pre-funding issue of retirees’ health benefits, it would fix over-funding the Postal Service’s CSRS and FERS accounts.
(Photo source: crooksandliars.com)