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Misguided compromise proposal misses the mark

On Thursday, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), the retiring chairman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, called a bipartisan meeting of House and Senate leaders to discuss his alarming idea to allow the U.S. Postal Service to end Saturday mail delivery service but retain package delivery service on that day.

“While I’m sure Senator Lieberman’s intentions are good, his notion not only is misguided, it falls into the trap of failing to address the root cause of problems the Postal Service continues to face,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said. “In fact, his proposal completely ignores the 2006 congressional mandate to pre-fund 75 years’ worth of future retiree health benefits and to do so within just 10 years.

“This crisis, manufactured by Congress, is what’s creating on Capitol Hill a false sense of urgency to act immediately,” Rolando said. “There is no argument that something must be done to solve the Postal Service’s financial problems, but Lieberman’s so-called compromise would eliminate 25,000 city carrier jobs and drive more business away from the Postal Service by undermining the value of our service.”

The president pointed to a key underlying message from USPS’s financial report on Thursday for Fiscal Year 2012, which ended Sept. 30.

“Almost $11.1 billion of the Postal Service’s reported $15.9 billion loss this past fiscal year stems from the pre-funding mandate—an unfair burden that no other company or government agency bears,” Rolando said.

“In fact, leaving aside pre-funding and other actuarial adjustments, a fraction of the overall losses—$2.5 billion—came from the actual delivery of mail,” he said. “That’s still a lot of money, but it needs to be stressed that it’s about half of the $4.9 billion in losses recorded the previous year.

“Rather than charging ahead with a faulty compromise that focuses only on service cuts,” the president said, “Congress should take carefully measured steps to address pre-funding—especially since the pre-funding account already contains more than enough cash to meet the health benefit needs of future retirees for decades to come.

“Addressing pre-funding would help take away the manufactured sense of urgency and allow the entire postal community—employees as well as lawmakers and managers—to come together to develop a forward-looking business plan to help the Postal Service succeed in the 21st century,” Rolando said.