Rep. Darrell Issa Team: USPS Retirement Overpayment is a Myth
House Representative Darrell Issa’s Facebook Wall page (now deleted):
Do you have links to those letters you could share so we know what points your union leaders made? We apologize for getting our hackles up…we re-read your post and ours and think we both could’ve done a better job. Truce?
What we can address (without seeing your union boss’ replies)…
The overpayment is a myth dependent on changing the law to conjure up an overpayment through backdoor accounting. Twice, Congress has passed and the President has signed laws that clearly define the retirement benefits obligations of the federal government and the USPS. It was not until the USPS began facing its current fiscal crisis (due to declining revenue from a world-wide move to electronic over “hard” mail communications and the USPS’ extremely high fixed costs…labor amounts to a full 80% of the USPS budget) that it began working with Congressional allies to reverse both laws and create an overpayment out of thin air. The OIG report is, in fact, based upon this change in the law to get its outcome…that is, if the law stays as it is today, the OIG report is not worth much if anything. This is the bailout: changing the law to raid federal retiree pensions to bail out the USPS of its legal obligations.
The USPS is clearly in crisis. We work with postal workers and their representatives on an almost daily basis and we know that many are hard-working; however, because of declining use of mail and rigidly high labor costs (see above), the USPS lost $5.3 billion in 2007, $2.8 billion in 2008 and $3.8 billion in 2009…and Congress allowed the USPS to defer on its legally-obligated health benefits payments last year to the tune of $4 billion.
The USPS must adjust its business model to the realities of declining demand for its services. A big part of that is cutting its workforce and renegotiating its union contracts, from no-layoff clauses to collective bargaining agreements that prevent workers from working outside their respective crafts and unusually generous benefits. For example, federal employees currently pay 27% of health care premiums and 67% of life insurance premiums…USPS workers only pay 17% and 0% respectively.
We love the USPS, but it’s tough love borne of an honest study of today’s supply-and-demand for USPS services. We must fix these structural problems today and cannot support any legislation or policy ideas that rest upon the American taxpayers covering even more USPS financial shortfalls.
Wow! Rep. Darrell Issa has really been on a roll lately addressing USPS issues. Issa is suggesting cutting the no-layoff clause from postal union contracts? If Article 6 of the collective bargaining agreement is eliminated–USPS will be free to lay-off thousands of employees. But one must remember that this suggestion is coming from a MILLIONAIRE. Darrell Issa is one of the richest members of Congress:
The wealthiest members of Congress grew richer in 2009 even as the economy struggled to recover from a deep recession. The 50 wealthiest lawmakers were worth almost $1.4 billion in 2009, about $85.1 million more than 12 months earlier, according to The Hill’s annual review of lawmakers’ financial disclosure forms. […]
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), with a net worth of $160.1 million, is the second-richest member of Congress under The Hill’s formula, even though his wealth declined by more than $4 million in 2009.