Flashback: Congress Says 2006 Postal Reform Bill Will Make USPS Viable for 21st Century

Are we in the 22nd Century yet? On December 20, 2006, the “Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006” was passed in both House and Senate (Darrell Issa was there at the time). This legislation was supposed to “modernize the United States Postal Service and make it  viable for the 21st century. The legislation, the first major overhaul of  the USPS since 1970, will help stabilize mail volume and stamp prices.”

Now, almost FIVE YEARS LATER  Postal Reform has taken center stage once again with the same so-called problems as Congress said it fixed in 2006.If the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 was flawed Congressman Darrell Issa did not say a word until he became Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform  Committee. In short, Issa has been quieter than the night before Christmas on issues facing the Postal Service until it became politically expedient to do so.

Highlights of the “Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006” include:

• Reaffirms USPS employees’ right to collectively bargain. This bill only makes changes to the bargaining process that have been agreed to by both the Postal Service and the four major unions. It replaces the rarely used fact-finding process with mediation, and shortens statutory deadlines for certain phases of the bargaining process. (Now Issa/Ross wants to override the will of his colleagues)

Repeals a provision of Public Law 108-18 that required money owed to the Postal Service due to an overpayment into the Civil Service Retirement System Fund to be held in an escrow account, which would essentially “free up” $78 billion over a period of 60 years. These savings would be used not only to pay off debt to the U.S. Treasury but also to fund health care liabilities, and mitigate rate increases.

• Returns to the Department of Treasury the responsibility for funding CSRS pension benefits relating to the military service of postal retirees. No other agency is required to make this payment.

Here is what some players responsible for the passage of the Postal Reform of 2006 had to say:

“As part of the reform, the legislation updates the Postal Service’s antiquated, costly regulatory system, toughens oversight, and allows the Postal Service to both act and compete as a modern business,” said Rep. John McHugh, R-N.Y., one of the key legislators pushing the bill.

“The U.S. Postal Service is the lynchpin of a $900 billion mailing  industry, providing nine million jobs nationwide in fields as diverse as  direct mailing, printing, catalog companies, paper manufacturing, and  financial services. But under its current business model, which has not  been updated in decades, the financial future of the Postal Service is not  viable,” said Senator Collins. “The only way to avoid what the Government
Accountability Office refers to as a ‘death spiral’ – of excessive and  unpredictable rate increases which lead to further reductions in mail  volume – is through the comprehensive reform that we accomplished here  today.”

“This legislation will help us avoid disastrous future postal rate  hikes and put the Postal Service on firm financial footing for the 21st  century,” said Senator Carper. “The bill would give the Postal Service the  tools it needs to survive at a time when more and more people communicate  and do business through faxes, email and electronic bill-pay rather than  hard-copy mail. My thanks to Senator Collins and Congressmen Davis and  Waxman for coming together to craft this compromise. The legislation will  go a long way toward making sure the Postal Service has the flexibility it  needs to compete in the new economy.”

“This is the culmination of more than a decade of hard work and study,  not to mention a great deal of bipartisan negotiation and cooperation,”  Government Reform Committee Chairman Tom Davis (R-VA) said. “The landmark  legislation solves the structural, legal, and financial constraints that  have brought the Postal Service to the brink of utter breakdown. This  compromise will reverse the ‘death spiral’ at the Postal Service and bring  it into the 21st century. It’s a huge win for everyone who uses stamps.”

“My colleagues and I have been working for nearly a decade to reach a  bipartisan, bicameral compromise on postal reform legislation,” said Rep.  Waxman. “This is a historic accomplishment and will help one of the most  revered institutions in America survive and prosper in the electronic age.”      The Postal Service is in a period of transition. When it was created in  1971, nobody had access to fax machines, cell phones, pagers and email.  After nearly three decades of success, these new communications  technologies have caught up with the agency. In recent years, the volume of  First Class mail has steadily decreased. At the same time, more than  1 million new addresses are added to delivery routes each year. The result:  Delivery costs have increased at the same time that revenues are being  threatened.

The legislation would force the Postal Service to concentrate on what  it does best – processing and delivering mail to all Americans. The bill,  entitled the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, would dramatically  rethink the way the Postal Service prices its products by giving it the  same ability any other business has to change prices whenever it needs to  do so. But to protect businesses and mailers from sudden and dramatic price  hikes, the legislation would ensure that price increases be kept below an  inflation- based ceiling.

In addition, the bill would give the Postal Service the freedom to  introduce new, innovative products or tailor existing products to meet  customers’ needs, which should help attract new business and increase  revenues. The bill would also shore up the Postal Service’s finances by  repealing a provision in current law that makes the Postal Service the only  agency in the federal government responsible for its employees’ military  pension benefits, returning this obligation to the U.S. Treasury. Another  provision will permanently correct the Postal Service’s flawed pension  formula, a formula that was leading to significant overpayments and  contributing to higher rates. These provisions will free up billions of  dollars, giving the Postal Service the ability to begin paying down its  debts.

What has happened in FIVE YEARS to fully place USPS  into the Postal Museum? NOTHING, except pushy politicians trying to carry out goals of giving private companies part of the Postal Service’s billions. Sure mail volume has dropped but a decrease in mail volume alone has not caused the postal service into a $10 billion deficit at the end of FY 2011.

21 thoughts on “Flashback: Congress Says 2006 Postal Reform Bill Will Make USPS Viable for 21st Century

  1. Maybe the Postal unions could lobby for legislation in Congress similar to Rep.Stephen Lynch’s H.R.1351 which would allow them to get back all the money that they have contributed to Darrel Issa the last several years…just wondering…

  2. The figures that I gave in my previous post were just the contributions from the PACs of the aforementioned contributors to Issa’s 2009-2010 campaign. In any case…we’ve been had!

  3. RUserious is right. All 4 of the Postal craft unions, along with a supervisor’s union, and 2 postmaster’s unions ,gave a total of $41,000 to Issa’s 2009-2010 campaign.The NRLCA gave $10,000…NALC gave $4,000. By contrast, FedEx and UPS gave a total of $12,500 combined.Even though I’m just a stooooopid Postal worker,I would have to say that all the Postal unions sold us out! Even Pitney-Bowes was a big Contributor! Someone’s been hoodwinked…

  4. What did B H Obama have to say about the bill? He was a Member of the U S Senate from 2005 to 2008. The Postal Reporter is basically an opinion piece with some selective facts added for flavor. Be careful what you read on here untill you check it out though a non bias source

  5. ALL of the Postal Unions contibuted COPA money to Darrell Issa’s 2010 election campaign. To make matters worse, the Rural Carriers have contributed ANOTHER $5000 to Issa’s 2012 election campaign!!! This information can be found at opensecrets.org. I, for one, will not contribute ANY money to COPA anymore. What Union would support a canidate that wants to destroy the USPS and our jobs?? There is something seiously wrong with this picture.

  6. all politicians are bought off. Postal management has done a horrific job of implementing the flat sorter and managing finances. Donohoe has been a lieing,dictorial, louse , and has deliberately manufactured a giant financial mess.
    Anyone that has or does work for the postal service knows that management is where the fat is. They are the highest paid least effective workers. Hell half the supervisors cant even type or keyboard, yet spend 75 percent of their time on the computer. The postal service had to install software so the the supervisors couldnt play solitaire and games.How bout ntft supervisors, casual supervisors, and te supervisors. Also make discipline for contract violations, and fmla vilations progressive.Congress should subpeona donohoes e-mail, and put hom under oath.

  7. When will our mailing news updates become peaceful, and when will the USPS resolve itself?

    1) 6 months
    2) 1 year
    3) 2 years
    4) 5 years
    5) never

  8. The much abused “tea partiers” didn’t exist in the 2 years the dumicrats had complete control of the house, senate and white house..and they did nothing to help the postal service…looks like they were too busy getting bought off to cram through things like “obama care”, the “dream act”, tax increases, more regulations to stifle business growth…yep them dirty tea partiers, you know the ones that pay the taxes, yeah their to blame….T (axed) E (nough) A ( lready)…yep their to balme for all this…yup yup yup

  9. Agreed that the Congress has been using USPS as a cash cow to improve budget numbers, but I’m not to sure that USPS is totally on the level with its dire projections. Seems to me this always happens around contract time, except now there are the crazed teapartiers in office who may actually try to carry out some of the proposals. I’m also not sure it is a good idea to let USPS get its hands on the billions set aside for healthcare. That’s like pouring money down a rathole.

  10. Is’nt it strange how the article mentions that Issa was there but neglects to say that then Senator Obama was there also and that the bill passed the Senate by UNANIMOUS consent.

  11. HO HO HO is doing his part to boot that un-American car thieving Traitor out of office;the rest of us need to do our part to get rid of The Car Thief and The Dunce.Darrel Issa and Dennis Ross must be s***canned!Walter Duncan,Wage Slave,and Ruby Harrison are all correct and should be commended for speaking the truth.

  12. Had a father daughter talk with my daughter who lives in Vista with her husband . I let her know how she and friends could help out with the fastly approaching election coming.

    Issa the word is getting out.

  13. Ruby, you are also correct. the Republicans had their shot at making the Postal Service pre-fund retiree health benefits, and they took it. What I would like to know, how come, when the Democrats won the Presidency, the House, and the Senate after the 2008 elections, they did not vote to stop the pre-funding requirement. They knew the Postal Service wanted to get out from under that payment, and they did nothing. So, how many of these politicians have their fingers in the Postal Service’s till? Makes me wonder!

  14. The finanical burden put on the Postal Service to pay $5.5 billion every year for the retiree pension fund in 2006 is the reason why the Postal Service is in trouble. This mandate no other federal agency has except the Postal Service was orchestrated by non other than our former President George Bush and his cronies. They were setting the Postal Service up for failure then, so it could be privitized, so more of the 1% richest american could pocket more money and pay low wages to regular american citizens. Why don’t congress listen to Rep. Lynch and pass the H R 1351 Bill that presently have 224 co-sponsors that would keep the Postal Service afloat and keep Post Offices open to the public. It’s very clear that Rep. Issa do not care about Postal workers or the mail being delivered in a timely manner to every american household!! Why are half of these people in office anyway? The next election is fastly approaching!! What will we americans do with people who do not care about everyday issues and concerns that’s going on in our country today?

  15. Mr. Duncan you are correct….and it’s not just upper level USPS Management that should be ashamed….EVERYONE IN CONGRESS AND THE PRESIDENT should be ashamed that through their action and INACTION, they are fundamentally and PERMANENTLY changing a National ICON….
    For the TEAPUBLICANS it is a matter of IDEOLOGY.
    For the Democrats it is a matter of IGNORANCE AND SLOTH.
    For the voters of America that elected THE PERPETRATORS it is a matter of INDIFFERENCE.

  16. Fighting to keep Grapevine, AR post office open. The building has changed several times through the years , but Grapevine has had a post office since 1878. That is only 18 years after the Pony Express began and 48 years after the first stamp. The postal service tries to say there is no historical significance to the post office. We beg to differ. 131 years in a community is historical no matter where you are located. It is the only office remaining in our community , due to school consolidations. But, without the post office, Grapevine no longer exists. It becomes a place , not a community. The post office is the center of our community. It is not always about the money across the counter. We exist: today and tomorrow. Just because we are a rural community we are not to be discounted, this country is majority rural. It started that way and the postal service should be ashamed.

  17. “Now, almost FIVE YEARS LATER Postal Reform has taken center stage once again with the same so-called problems as Congress said it fixed in 2006.If the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 was flawed Congressman Darrell Issa did not say a word until he became Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. In short, Issa has been quieter than the night before Christmas on issues facing the Postal Service until it became politically expedient to do so.”

    I said, shit kept a-rollin’ all night long, with a heeve! an a ho! but i just couldnt tell you so, no no no.

  18. I got this off NALC website. I’m a union member but It looks like the Unions outsmarted themselves.

    NALC did not restrict itself to purely labor matters. We worked for years to secure the basic financial components to ensure a viable Postal Service. We demanded the release of the CSRS escrow account set up by the 2003 pension funding reform, with some flexibility to use the funds for operations. And we demanded that the Bush administration reverse its decision to saddle the USPS for $27 billion in military pension benefits earned by postal employees before they were hired. Suckas!

    The Bush administration had different ideas. It sought to complete the heist of the $27 billion and it tried to inflexibly earmark 100 percent of escrow savings for retiree health benefits.

    In both cases, we prevailed over the White House. The new law sets out a 10-year schedule for using the escrow and military pension savings to dramatically reduce the Postal Service’s massive unfunded liability for retiree health insurance, while also providing some flexibility for other uses. In so doing, we secured more than $100 billion for the Postal Service in the decades to come and protected the interests of our current and future retirees, whose health benefits will be fully funded.

Comments are closed.