NALC Activist Alert
Betty Liu is an anchor of the Bloomberg cable channel show “In The Loop,” which airs weekday mornings from 8 to 10 Eastern.
On her show-related Facebook page, she sometimes posts questions for viewers and followers to answer.
Here was a recent question: “Would you forgo Sat[urday] delivery of your mail to save billions of dollars in the deficit?”
Now, if you’re the average TV viewer who sees this choice presented for the first time, you’re probably thinking that taking such a bold step to help cut a so-called deficit might be a good thing, right?
But most NALC activists would probably scratch their heads and say, “Now, wait just a second.”
It’s common knowledge that the postmaster general has asked Congress to let him eliminate a day of mail delivery service, just one of his ideas to help the Postal Service save money—even though dropping a day of delivery (probably Saturday) would amount to a 17 percent cut in service that might save at best 3 percent in costs. And that doesn’t even account for the mail business—letters and packages—that such a service reduction would likely drive away from the mail stream.
Meanwhile, there’s this to chew on: In the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2012 (the period covering the last three months of 2011), the Postal Service made an operational profit of about $200 million. It announced this profit during a recent Board of Governors meeting.
However—because of the 2006 postal reform law’s unfair requirement that the Postal Service spend around $5.5 billion annually over 10 years to pre-fund 75 years’ worth of future retiree health benefits, USPS showed an overall loss of $3.3 billion in Q1 of FY2012, mainly because it was forced to put aside money toward a pre-funding payment that’s unique to the Postal Service—no other government agency or private enterprise is required by law to fully pre-fund the benefits of future employees, some of whom haven’t even been born yet. And to make that payment, it had to borrow against its line of credit from the Treasury to do it.
Now, taken at face value, the answer to Liu’s question seems a no-brainer, and that’s probably why 38 of the 41 total votes cast (at last count) were for the “yes” option. But her presented choices don’t address the Postal Service actual problem—never mind that if pre-funding were repealed, the question wouldn’t even need to be asked.
So, while it’s encouraging that more and more people are “getting it”—that the real fault behind the Postal Service’s manufactured financial crisis has just about everything to do with Congress and its unfair pre-funding mandate—polls like Liu’s show letter carrier activists that we still have a lot of work to do to make sure that our message gets out.
Fortunately, 27 senators, led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), “get it,” which is why repealing pre-funding is at the top of the listed priorities in Sanders’ reform measure, S. 1853. Our job is to make sure that the number of our supporters in Congress builds to a critical mass so we can get the pre-funding mandate repealed, which would then allow us the breathing room to work with the Postal Service to focus on building a strong business model for a truly 21st century Postal Service.