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Congressman Issa Goes Postal

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We're again being deceived by evil right-wing zealots -- this time they're lying about your postal service.

The insufferable Congressman from California's 49th District is at it again trying to destroy one of our most efficient government agencies, a Constitutionally established entity (Article.I., Section.8.) -- The United States Postal Service.

The Founding Fathers understood the necessity of the fluid national distribution of mail, and it's importance to democracy, over 235 years ago. Republican's, polished at the art of deceiving the American People, are telling everyone that will listen that the Post Office is going bankrupt.

The Post Office bankrupt? How does that happen?

It happens using false premises and legislative tricks. As a result, Representative Darrell Issa introduced a bill, HR 2309, Postal Reform Act of 2011, that begins to dismantle the Postal Service.

It's true they had a healthcare funding obligation of $5.5 billion due September 30th, that they will not meet. But, there are mitigating circumstances Representative Issa ignores and will not include in any discussion. Misrepresentation by omission.

What Issa ignores is the Postal Accountability Enhancement Act (PAEA); a statute signed into law by Dubya in 2006.

PAEA, introduced by Senator Susan Collins, (R-ME), S662, addressed important postal issues, including the potential overpayments to pension and healthcare funds and the misinterpretation, by the Office of Management and Budget, of Title VIII.

In essence, the law required the Postal Service pre-fund their retirement and healthcare programs well into the future -- so far into the future that a child born today would already have his/her retirement fully funded.

Senator Collins has purportedly been battling with the OMB over Title VIII, contending that the surplus, as cited in PAEA, was to be returned to the Postal Service and that no new legislation is required to achieve that.

Some lawmakers are scrambling to correct this while Issa is taking this opportunity to move toward privatization.

The Senator from Maine has introduced a new bill as has Senator Carper (D-DE), a cosponsor of PAEA, to correct the misinterpretation of Title VIII and offer viable reforms to the postal system which will help them continue to provide their Constitutionally mandated service efficiently and better react to the rapidly changing dynamics in communication.

Senator Carper's bill addresses the challenges the Postal Service faces and warns that HR2309 abdicates responsibility for cleaning up the current problems. He further states, "while the situation is dire, it's not hopeless."

Representative Stephen Lynch, (D-MA), introduced HR 1351, The USPS Pension Obligation Recalculation and Restoration Act, to audit the funds and correct the confusion PAEA caused. An audit will show that the Postal Service has not only overpaid their pension by $60 billion, but has run a surplus of over $600 million dollars over the last four years.

Postmaster General, Patrick Donahoe, presented his recommendations to Congress: the closure of hundreds of offices and distribution centers, reduction in the workforce of 120,000 workers, and eliminating Saturday service. This seems extremely drastic for an agency that is fully funded and isn't costing the taxpayers a single cent in its current configuration.

President of the American Postal Workers Union, Cliff Guffey, calls these proposals outrageous. A spokesperson for the APWU indicated that postal workers agreed to concessions in their May contract which included a no layoff clause.

The Postal Service has cut 110,000 jobs over the past five years, all by attrition. The Postmaster General's office has promised newly proposed reductions will also be achieved by attrition.

Mr. Donahoe, in an interview on NPR, depicted management in the postal system as bad and stated that their employees don't do a good job. It would be difficult to work under such derogatory assaults.

Last September the Postal Regulatory Commission denied the Postal Service's request for a first class rate increase of two cents, claiming the Post Office's cash flow problem was not a result of the recession and, therefore, their request citing exigent circumstances was not warranted.

With the advent of email and online bill payment the demand for first class mail has declined. But the devastation the recession caused small businesses took a huge toll on revenues from mail and shipping. Clearly a nexus for exigent circumstances.

Senator Collins argued against the increase urging the PRC to take a narrow view of the 'due to' clause.

Exigent circumstance rate increases can be requested as exigent circumstances occur. Regular rate increases are tied to a CPI formula; an inflation formula that is antiquated and out-of-touch with 'reality.' Despite inflationary rises in rents, energy rates, food, and gas first class postal rates have not increased in two years. Estimates for the nine months from a January 2011 enactment of the exigent rate increase would have increased revenues by $2.3 billion.

Three bills have been introduced to correct problems the Postal Service has encountered and are written to help them become profitable and reactive.

Issa's legislation is a first step toward privatization; a move that would be unconstitutional. But corporatist's like Issa tend to disregard the Constitution when it doesn't suit them.

HR 2309 adds another Commission -- the "Authority' -- in Article II; more costly bureaucracy to muck things up.

The solution seems to be fairly simple; one that can be fixed without draconian measures or more bureaucracy as proposed by Congressman Issa.

Correct the errors of the PAEA as proposed by Congressman Lynch and bring the funding of pensions and healthcare inline with fair practices. Raise postal rates on first class mail to forty-eight or fifty cents. Slowly close offices and distribution centers with minimal impact to mail service, and reduce employment by attrition as the Postal Service has done over the last five years.

Congress needs to make changes in the way the Postal Service operates, but the Postmaster's proposals are too drastic if the Postal Service is operating profitably -- generating a yearly surplus.

The Constitution mandates fluid, unobstructed mail delivery for every American; free and fluid distribution of mail is a necessity of a vibrant democracy.

It's not the Postal Service or its people that are inefficient or bad. It's Congress and Republican Congressmen like Darrell Issa that are the problem.

Republican's insistence in constantly working against, rather than with government agencies, is destroying this country.

Save the Post Office. Replace Issa!

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