APWU Web News Article 56-2012, May 9, 2012
Fox News may have set a new record for inaccurate reporting this week in a story about the Postal Service.
The story, which was broadcast on May 8 and posted on Fox’s Web site, frantically warns viewers and visitors that because of a bill approved by the Senate, “taxpayers may be on the hook for Postal Service losses.” The Web posting even has a handy “taxpayer calculator” that shows visitors “how much the bailout will cost you.”
There’s just one problem: As Fox admits, taxpayers don’t pay a dime to support the Postal Service. And nothing in the Senate bill would require them to start.
The piece is clearly designed to drum up support for a discredited House bill (H.R. 2309) sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL), and to undermine support for a bill approved by the Senate on April 25.
“The U.S. Senate passed a $34 billion bailout bill last month that actually forces the Postmaster to accept taxpayer money for jobs he doesn’t need and buildings he doesn’t want.”
The Senate approved S. 1789, which would return to the Postal Service approximately $11 billion that postal customers, postal employees and the USPS itself overpaid to the federal government. No taxpayer money is involved.
What about the rest of the $23 billion? It’s not clear where Fox got the $34 billion figure, but the bill doesn’t appropriate any money from the federal government — or taxpayers — to the Postal Service.
“The subsidy also fully funds the union retirement fund.”
There is no subsidy. Only the Postal Service and postal employees fund postal retirements. Furthermore, postal retirement funds are overfunded by billions of dollars.
“The bill prohibits the Service from closing 250 mail processing centers and 3,000 mostly rural post offices.”
The bill wouldn’t prohibit the Postal Service from closing mail processing centers or post offices. It would provide for greater community input into decisions about closings and would allow the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) to reverse improper USPS decisions on these matters.
Worst Fiction of All:
Fox neglected to mention the primary cause of the USPS financial crisis: The provision of the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act that requires the USPS to pre-fund healthcare benefits for future retirees — a burden no other government agency or private company bears. The mandate, which forces the Postal Service to pay a 75-year liability in just 10 years, costs the USPS approximately $5.5 billion per year, and is responsible for most of the Postal Service’s deficits. Without the pre-funding requirement, the USPS would have accumulated a modest surplus in the four years from 2006-2010 — during the worst recession in 80 years.