Wednesday, March 23, 2011
A couple of people have complained that my article yesterday on Rep. Darrell Issa (Is Darrell Issa Getting Cold Feet About Postal Service Downsizing?) misrepresented his comments at a recent Congressional hearing on the Postal Service.
Here is the passage in question, starting at the 2:28 mark in the video (which was uploaded to YouTube today):
"Postmaster General, I appreciate the fact that you have come in and re-looked anew at your predecessor's initial ideas, and I have seen some innovative and, I think, very worthwhile suggestions you have made, and some of them are tough. As we were talking before we came out here, the good news is there are at least two post offices that need to be closed in every congressional district in America. Let's hope there is not one or three in mine."
Issa's words are open to interpretation, but seeing the video leads me to believe he was making a joke and not a threat. (Some advice, Congressman, if you're thinking about becoming a comedian: Don't give up your day job.)
I'm guessing he meant that if an average of two post offices were closed in every Congressional district, fewer than two closings in his district would look like special treatment and more than two would get him into trouble with his voters. But I welcome other interpretations (and think I fixed the problem that prevented readers from commenting on this blog).
After a long history of politicians complaining about inefficiency at the Postal Service but then blocking any austerity moves in their own district, some of us may have been too quick to conclude that Issa was playing the "not in my district" game. The proof will be when the inevitable post office closings and USPS job cuts hit home in his district.
Issa's brief statement also left room for interpreting his position on ending Saturday delivery. Saying that the Postal Service should deliver "a level of service that Americans have come to expect," he added: "If at all possible, we want that to include all categories of mail, all types, and all delivery dates, meaning six days a week is a goal if we can achieve it."
But this statement is certainly clear: "The cost of mail is a cost to American commerce and to the American people, so every time there is an increase in postal rates, it is to the detriment of American efficiency and disposable income to the American people."
Amen to that, Congressman!