And don’t think it hasn’t been a slice of heaven…Cuz it hasn’t! Bugs Bunny
My readers here have seen me go off on this particular subject at least twice now. And if you go far enough with me to Mothership, then you probably remember it was one of my favorite whipping boys there too. Because it was such an outrage.
The hobby horse was the 2006 Postal Accountability and Responsibility Act. It contained neither. Instead, it was one of the worst disguised assassination attempts against a government agency that I’ve ever seen. The GOP passed it in the lame duck session of 2006, before the Democrats retook the House and Senate in January.
In brief, it was a naked GOP power play to make the United States Postal Service so unprofitable and helpless that the government could privatize it so UPS and FedEx could move in like vultures and raid the carcass. The USPS is insanely popular with the public, and was a tough nut to crack because it’s the only government department that takes no money from the budget. It supports itself with the rates it charges for its services, which made it immune from budget cuts.
The poison pill of the Act was the fact that it required the USPS to pre fund the employees pension plan for the next 75 years! And not just the already existing employees either, they had to pre fund the pension plan for employees who weren’t even hired yet! No company on the planet works like this. Shit, I get 1/4 of my United pension every month from the PBGC because the company defaulted on their payments in a bankruptcy. The scheme was simple. Drive up the rates so much the USPS was too expensive for people to use, and bankrupt it.
But it looks like that may be about to change. The Democrats have been on their hind legs since 2007 trying to get this heinous act ditched, but the GOP wasn’t having any. But last night, out of the blue, scores of GOP House members joined the Democrats in voting to finally get rid of that ridiculous act, and let the post office start functioning! Why now? I don’t know, but my personal guess is that the Louis DeToy debacle around the election last year in trying to cripple the USPS, raised so much ire, and made the post office so popular with the public that the GOP realize it’s here to stay.
Which leaves the Senate, and the GOP’s Grim Reaper, Mitch McConnell. Well, maybe not. Democratic Michigan Senator Gary Peters has a Senate version of the same bill he’s pushing, and it already has a dozen GOP co-sponsors, more than enough for a cloture vote. Now, I’m no McConnell whisperer, but I get the feeling that he too is wanting to get the GOP Senate as far away from the DeToy stench as possible, and if making the USPS functional again is what it takes, then so be it.
This is why this has always been such a hobby horse for me. When Teri and I moved out here in 2005, we did it on a wing and a prayer. We lived in a residence Hotel, and landed jobs with a temp agency. We got paid by check, but our credit rating didn’t leave any banks willing to take a chance on us for a while. We were lucky, our locals casino charged us next to nothing to cash our paychecks, but nationwide, there are millions of people in the same position we were in, who have no choice to go to predatory check cashing joints to cash their checks.
For years now, I have been advocating making the USPS the world’s largest version of a credit union. There is a post office in every neighborhood in the country. It would be child’s play to equip the post offices to handle simple checking and savings accounts, admitting people the major banks won’t take a chance on. But if the post office can’t even break even, who would want to open an account with them?
If congress actually gets this done, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the USPS didn’t actually come out and announce a rate decrease. Freed of the onerous burden of having to pre fund the pension plan, the USPS would likely almost immediately become profitable again. And here’s the golden nugget there. While the USPS is set up to be self sufficient, it is not intended to be a profit making business. Just as the USPS draws no funds from the Treasury Department, if it makes a profit, which has happened occasionally in days gone by, at the end of the year, that money is turned over to the Treasury Department.
And here’s one more golden nugget to put this puppy to bed on. As we speak, the Biden administration is pushing Postal Board of Governor nominees through the Senate confirmation process. Once they get through, the Louis DeToy reign is over. And since Biden only nominated solidly qualified professionals, whomever becomes the nest Postmaster General will have a wealth of post office experience. And then watch that place shine like a Tiffany diamond. And if congress gets this done, I will be the first one lined up at the dock to flip the now defunct law double barrel birds as the slow boat to China pulls away from the dock. Don’t touch that dial.