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Rolando: House GOP plan to aid transportation fund by degrading postal services would damage economy

NALC President Fredric Rolando said the proposal by House Republican leaders to temporarily fund highway construction by degrading postal services would damage the economy while failing to achieve desired transportation goals.

“This is the latest attempt by GOP leaders at an end run, trying to cut postal services to provide money for another program, whether unemployment benefits, veterans’ benefits, and now highways. The prior efforts failed, not because those aren't fine programs, but because the Postal Service plays a vital role in our economy and our communities,” Rolando said.

“Rather than offer Americans real solutions, House leadership is once more seeking the easy way out," the president said. "America can have a strong, safe highway network without sacrificing a strong Postal Service. We shouldn’t be forced to choose between the two. GOP leaders need to go back to the drawing board.”

Rolando called the plan a shell game that relies on accounting gimmicks and fails on multiple counts.

“This maneuver makes no sense," he said. "The Postal Service doesn’t rely on taxpayer money or Congress to fund its operations. It earns its revenue selling stamps, and it shouldn’t be treated like a congressional piggy bank.

“It’s a political cop-out," Rolando said. "House GOP leaders want to raid the Postal Service because there is not enough money in the Highway Trust Fund to pay for projects they want to fund. Instead of making hard choices about highway spending in an election year, some in Congress would rather resort to accounting tricks.

“It wouldn’t even work if tried," the president said. "There is not a penny of money here for the government. Lawmakers are claiming 'real savings for the general fund of the Treasury' from a future hypothetical event—a postal bailout—that no one is calling for or has proposed.

“It’s a job-killer," Rolando said. "Ending Saturday delivery would eliminate 80,000 postal jobs in cities and rural areas. That would affect the local, state and national tax base, and reduce consumer spending in our communities. And it amounts to a new tax on businesses, particularly the small businesses that create two-thirds of all new jobs. They are open weekends, need to send and receive checks, and would have to hire expensive private carriers to do so without Saturday mail.

“This plan would begin dismantling the Postal Service, an agency that’s based in the Constitution and provides Americans with the world’s most-affordable delivery service," the president said. "A bipartisan majority of Congress has signed the resolution by Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) to maintain Saturday mail delivery, given its importance to millions of small businesses. The USPS has been operationally profitable since October 2012; degrading service would drive mail out of the system, thereby stopping the postal turnaround in its tracks and achieving the exact opposite of what proponents of this legislative maneuver claim it would do.”

Reaction to the plan from across the political spectrum was immediate.

Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, said in a statement Friday that the “deeply flawed proposal” would cost taxpayers and hurt the ability of states to make infrastructure plans.

“This proposal from House Republican Leadership is a non-starter,” Carper said. “The numbers just don’t add up…I can't endorse a plan that just dodges the tough decisions yet again.”

Heritage Action for America, lobbying arm of the conservative Heritage Foundation, blasted the trial balloon even more sharply.

“The idea Congress would use a supposedly self-funding agency that cannot pay its bills as a piggy bank to fund another bankrupt, self-funding fund is absurd," Dan Holler, spokesman for Heritage Action for America, said in a statement Friday.