Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Is Darrell Issa Getting Cold Feet About Postal Service Downsizing?

Please also see the follow-up article Here's What Darrell Issa Actually Said -- But Don't Ask What He Meant.

Rep. Darrell Issa, the Republican Congressional leader who has been boldly advocating a downsizing of the U.S. Postal Service, suddenly doesn't sound so brave.

At a recent Congressional hearing, according to postal commentator Eddie Mayhew in his newsletter for publishers, Issa said there were probably post offices in every district that could be closed but that he hopes “there isn’t one or three in mine." Is this really the same man who just four months ago told The Washington Post, "There are too many postal workers, too many distribution centers, too many post offices and a reluctance to make those changes"?

Or the same one who told The Heritage Foundation in October that "the Post Office has 200,000 people who should be retiring"? (See USPS Has Too Many Supervisors And Too Many Employees, Congressman Says.)

I have news for you, Congressman: Every postal worker, every distribution center, and every post office is in some Congressman's district. If you, as the chief proponent of USPS downsizing, can't "man up" and drop the "reluctance to make those changes," how can you expect your Congressional colleagues to cooperate with any meaningful rightsizing of the Postal Service?

While grandstanding politicians yack about making the Postal Service more efficient, the Postal Service has been busy actually doing something -- like eliminating 25,000 career positions in the past year. This Friday, it will announce another 7,500 job cuts – this time including real employees instead of just vacant positions – along with the closing of some facilities.

If some of those places and people are in Issa's district, will he remain true to the cause of downsizing the Postal Service? Or will he start whining like a West Virginia Democrat about how his district needs every Postal Service job it can get?

The Santa Ana, CA processing and distribution center is within commuting distance of Issa's district -- and is the kind of small distribution facility often targeted for consolidation. If it becomes the subject of an Area Mail Processing study, will Issa still proclaim there are "too many distribution centers" and let the Postal Service carry on with consolidation? Or will he demand an investigation and use his committee chairmanship to punish the Postal Service for practicing what he preaches?

Say what you will about the Postal Service, its cost-cutting moves the past few years have dwarfed anything done by other government agencies -- including Congress. Especially Congress. Postal executives are making the tough decisions. Now let's see if Issa and other Congressional leaders have the cojones to do the same.

Democrats in the last Congress tried to dress up giveaways and pork-barrel projects as "economic stimulus," but the voters didn't buy it. Seeking fiscal sanity, millions who had voted for Obama two years earlier decided to hand the House's reins over to the GOP.

By the same token, if Issa and his allies talk "austerity" but really mean "not in my district," voters will turn on them as well.


Anonymous said...

The article hits the nail on the head. Congress admonishs USPS management to "run like a business" yet when USPS tries to close a small P O in their District that costs $100K to operate but takes in $15K annually, it's suddenly, NIMBY - not in my back yard! We're tired of the hypocrisy - either pony up the money for the losses to run these small P. O.s or stop micromanaging. What's our mandate? Provide universal service or run strictly on a profit/loss basis? Can't have it both ways. All this tough talk is a bunch of baloney. If you are going to require the profit/loss mandate, then rural residents are going to suffer because the business model does not work there. That's why UPS suddenly pulled out of AK, and left all their customers high and dry. Go back and do your history homework on the reasons for the establishment of universal, free rural delivery in the first place.

During the Great Recession, Sears closed 50 stores; Starbucks 500, because they were not profitable. The original mandate of the Postal Service was never to make a profit, but to break even over a 3 to 4 year rate cycle. The cost of a domestic 1st class letter in Europe and Japan runs about 70 cents, and they don't have to transport mail 3000 miles or jump an ocean. A letter from Portland ME to Hilo HI for 44 cents; what a bargain. Uniform rates and universal service. Do you think UPS or FEDEX would do it for that price? Yea, I remember 3 cent stamps; I also remember 27 cent a gallon gas. And 25 cent movies. Get real. I am so tired of listening these self-annointed "experts". These Congressmen remind me of 500 piss ants on a log, going down the Mississippi - every one of them thinks they are the navigator. I have over 38 years with USPS and have done just about every craft and management job there is, including rural Postmaster. I'm tired of hearing this crap ad nauseum. Some honesty, not posturing, would go a long way.

Anonymous said...

Very well said!!!