Tuesday, August 14, 2012

7 More Reasons the GOP Might Be Starving USPS of Cash

Exactly why House Republican leaders chose not to act on any postal reform legislation before autumn is still a bit of a mystery. But last week’s Dead Tree Edition article on the subject (See 7 Reasons the GOP Might Be Starving USPS of Cash) stirred up plenty of theories and heated comments from all parts of the political spectrum.

Liberals seemed to think I was overly na├»ve in failing to see the obvious Republican plot to destroy the U.S. Postal Service and let the GOP's cronies loot what’s left. Several conservatives objected to Dead Tree Edition’s supposed liberal bias and questioned why links to this "partisan" article showed up in industry newsletters and LinkedIn groups.

I have a confession to make: Yes, I lean Democratic – whenever I hear Republican politicians yammering. And I start thinking Republican when the Dems start blowing their own hot air. As long as the two parties focus on name calling and sound bites rather than actual solutions, I have no qualms about ridiculing both sides of the aisle.

Anyway, amidst all the vitriol and conspiracy theories, seven additional interesting and sometimes insightful theories emerged to explain the GOP's inaction on the growing postal crisis:

  1. Why bail out Obama?: If a real USPS crisis – like mail not getting delivered or people not getting paid – occurs before the election, who will get blamed? Sure, the thinking goes, House Republicans might take some heat for not bringing any bills to a vote. But the big issue would be the Obama Administration’s failure to provide leadership on a crisis that should have caught no one by surprise.

  2. All pain, no gain: A vote for USPS cost cutting three months before re-election time? Forget about it. Many Congressmen probably had nightmares about their opponents holding media events at closed post offices or being cheered at rallies of laid-off postal workers. They know that those of us who to preserve the Postal Service by enabling it to balance its budget are poorly organized and will have little impact on this fall’s elections.

  3. No consensus: The Republican majority in the House is pretty slim. With some members insisting on radical reform and others wanting not-in-my-district carve-outs (“You can’t close any rural post offices.”), getting any bill through the House would be challenging. And anything that did get through would probably die in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

  4. Let it fail: Many conservatives view the Postal Service’s structure as fundamentally flawed, so why bother with Band-Aids when what’s needed are amputations? Compromise, in this view, only delays the inevitable; addressing USPS’s overpayments into pension and retiree-benefits funds (See Is the Postal Service Really Broke?) at this point would only give Congress more excuses not to wrestle with other cost issues. As USPS gets closer to running out of cash, interest in cost cutting seems to grow. But exactly what do these people hope will occur when USPS can no longer pay bills or cover payroll? Bankruptcy? Furloughs? Drastic cuts that Congress has not authorized?

  5. The real GOP plan is privatization: This more extreme version of “Let it fail” was put forth by both conservatives and liberals, with different slants of course. Right-wingers tout the efficiencies that come with private ownership (and presumably the lack of Congressional micromanaging as well) as the answer to our nation’s mail-delivery system. Lefties claim Republicans are “evil bloodsuckers” who want to turn the Postal Service over to their cronies so they can raid its pension funds and sell off its valuabe real estate. (Anyone in the market for 100 or so vacant processing and distribution centers?) I missed the logic of both a liberal's claim that the GOP would sell USPS to Wal-Mart (as if Wal-Mart wants to get into the mail business) and a conservative's proposal to turn each post office into a standalone business (If each postal facility is a separate business, which one would get the revenue from a mail piece – the one where the mail is entered, the one where it’s sorted, or the one handling delivery?).

  6. If you can’t retire them, scare them off: Any serious cost cutting at the Postal Service means reducing the workforce, which accounts for nearly 80% of the agency’s costs. But no-layoff clauses, poor job prospects on the outside, and a fouled-up pension-payments process (See USPS Retirement Mess: A Major Barrier To Downsizing.) have led to extremely low turnover. Perhaps some Republicans hope USPS's outlook will get bad enough to scare employees into bailing out before their retirement benefits get swallowed up.

  7. Who cares? A knowledgeable Beltway insider chided me for thinking that Congress members care as much about fixing the Postal Service as do us folks in mail-dependent industries: “From the broader standpoint of Congress, this simply … isn’t important enough to get worked up about.” I fear he is correct.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

The problem is that NO ONE has been smart to offer early outs to carriers that would then open positions for clerks and mailhandlers to transfer over. I have 37 years as a carrier and would leave tomorrow if they would just offer me three years.And the CSRS system costs the P.O.more money. Keep your cash. But no one from the PMG to Congress is smart enough.Millionaires with NO brains!

Anonymous said...

why would mailhandlers want to be carriers when they make all the OT..

Anonymous said...

just keep in mind how congress has handled the postal service debt crisis when you hear politicians "talk" about their big plans to reduce the deficit and national debt! obviously, the incompetents in congress cannot solve the financial problems in one of their agencies, how in the world are they ever seriously going to address the debt crisis facing the whole country? the answer is, "they aren't." this country eventually will go bankrupt so i urge all you folks to plan your future accordingly. what to do? i would suggest you start by stocking up on guns, ammo, bottled water, and non-perishable food. if you prepare and this country dosen't go into a civil war type enviroment, where blood runs in the streets and it is every man for himself, then consider yourself lucky and you will have lost next to nothing. however, do nothing, and don't prepare your family and loved ones for an anarchy-like state and that may very well be a fatal mistake. just sayin..........

Anonymous said...

Ha, mailhandler turned carrier. I get plenty of OT and now penalty OT.

Anonymous said...

If you cant afford to live on a 37 yr pension, probably cant afford it on a 40 yr pension either. Just an excuse to stay. I just left (Letter Carrier) with a 30 yr pension, can always make it work. Are now 6 PTF positions open in my ex-workstation, clerks, mailhandlers are not interested, dont want to be outside. Dont expect carriers will ever see early out, short of 5 day. When you get fed up, leave, I did, great decision.

Anonymous said...

To have a job!?!?

Jimmy said...

I am a betting man. I bet that there will never be an early out for the carrier craft. Carrying mail is not an easy job, physically or mentally. Many of the insiders (clerks, mail handlers, supervisors managers) could not handle the constant wear and tear on their bodies. Perhaps if they were just starting out and developed over time, then and only then would they become successful carriers. Now, I won't discount all of the the above, but I believe that the majority could not handle delivering mail. Therefore you guys are a commodity worth holding onto. I can not understand why someone would stick around for even another year with 37 years in for approx $5.00 to $10.00 more a month. Make that call to Shared Services today and inquire what your pension would be tomorrow and then in a year. Then decide to see if the $60.00 or $120.00 will make you or break you. Enjoy the last laugh when a few hundred of you file for retirement - there will be more supervisors delivering the mail than there are now. Go and enjoy your grand kids and your golf games. Can't wait till I am eligible and I am outa here.

Anonymous said...

To the one about blood in the streets. I am getting ready. Selling everything I own. Putting the money in an offshore account.(Learn from someong running for President)We are on our way to becoming a third world country. The differnce from them is we have guns.And the difference from 37 to 40 years is roughly my insurance payment.

Anonymous said...

Well, I need 22 years, and I know how to fix the post office. Eliminate 65% of management, retire all csrs employees, raise postage to $.50, curbside or ndcbu ALL addresses, consolidate routes, stop pre-funding, keep congress (republican and democrat) the @#$%&! Out of our business! A new contract, broke down lazy carriers need to get off their a$$ and carry or get out! We as a company need to work together ... PERIOD! Everyone needs to get their heads out of the sand and realize this is gonna take all of us to fix management the insiders and us the carriers. We need to look at parcels parcels parcels. That's where our money is coming from. I have 12 1/2 years in and I've sat back and watched management and the union stand with their backs against the wall to see who can pee further! REALLY? I've seen a carrier case mail then sit on his rear only to drive off on a 1200 pound Harley after clocking off after his 8 hour day is done and we are still beating the streets in 105 degree heat! Because he had carpal tunnel? How can the union allow this kind if management style waist go on ... South Texas

Kevin Mccormick said...

To south Texas, you have a whole 12.5 years, with 22 to go, good luck. Hope you don't get tossed out when your body breaks down in a few years. I just retired after 32 years,cerival spinal & cubital tunnel surgerys helped make that decision. Glad I was a csrs employee.

Anonymous said...

"Broke down lazy carriers need to get off their a$$es and carrier or get out!" Read Jimmy above. There is a reason the other crafts don't want to carry mail.We aren't in a/c or heated working conditions AND that is why we should be offered.And for Jimmy. For every year you stay it is $92 more a month.Not $5 or $10 bucks...

Anonymous said...

Everything that is going on (or not going on) right now is becoming more and more predictable even though it defies logic. Because it does defy logic, it certainly means that there must be some hidden agenda going on. Time will only tell what it truly is, but the demonic way that the country's lawmakers and management of the USPS have been treating the dedicated and hard-working federal employees of the USPS is so mind-boggling that they have been aiding the mental health field the past year or two like no one has before! Must they be reminded that these people are also the same workforce that started the term "Going Postal?" They seem to be pushing people so much that some may entertain thoughts that they NEVER would have before.

It is so obvious that no one cares about the USPS employees these days, not the lawmakers, not the pseudo-management that has been put in place at the USPS, not the unions and only some of the citizens that are served by this great institution.

I suppose Obama can put another one in the history books along with the ObamaCare and the first black President...and that would be, of course, that he was the first president in well over 200 years to abolish the Postal Service and starting the beginning of the end for our country. You think we've got unemployment now? Wait until over half a million people are put out of well-paid jobs! (But then, it will be too late.)

Anonymous said...

You're missing the crux of the issue. The problem is RFD, Rural Free Delivery. It's been losing money forever, but they are careful to not even do their books in a way to expose this. Look at the most spread out districts in the country. They are almost all Republican districts. Cut RFD and you cut the least efficient part of the USPS workforce while balancing their budget. That's why Republicans will raise all kinds of hell but never address the problem. The problem is that the bloat in USPS is postal welfare for their voters paid for by the rest of us. On the other hand, you could argue our founding fathers never meant for it to be a money maker, but saw it as a necessity regardless since it is in the Constitution.