The United States Postal Service (USPS) spent over $717 million in 2010 and 2011 on unauthorized overtime pay. That’s right taxpayers, you gave an industry that is nearing bankruptcy $717 million more than you should have. According to National Journal:
“The USPS inspector general’s audit found that field operations employees worked about 1.2 billion hours in fiscal 2010 and 1.1 billion hours in fiscal 2011. Many of those hours were unauthorized by managers and supervisors. In numerous cases, managers failed to check overtime reports.
The big story this week will of course be the U.S. Supreme Court’s hearings on the constitutionality of President Obama’s government takeover of the healthcare industry. The court will hear an unprecedented six hours of oral arguments spread across three days (Monday through Wednesday) and will render a decision sometime this summer. The Supreme Court will hear three cases against Obamacare and will consider the following four legal questions:
- Whether the Anti-Injunction Act prohibits parties from challenging the minimum coverage provision, or individual mandate, at this time;
- Whether Congress exceeded its constitutional authority in enacting the minimum coverage provision—that is, whether the individual mandate is unconstitutional;
- Whether, if the mandate to purchase minimum coverage is unconstitutional, the mandate can be severed from the rest of the [new law] such that portions of the statute remain in effect; and,
- Whether Congress’s threat to withhold all federal funding under Medicaid, the single largest grant-in-aid program, in order to impose onerous conditions on the States that it could not impose directly constituted “coercion” and thereby exceeded Congress’s enumerated powers and violated basic principles of federalism.
Today [Thursday], the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will markup the Postal Reform Act of 2011. This bold piece of legislation addresses the fiscal and structural crisis that the Postal Service faces today. The situation has become so dire that even after the Postmaster General took some unusual but necessary steps to cut costs, Congress still had to act to prevent them from defaulting on a $5.5 billion payment to their retirement benefit program. Worse still is that the delayed payment is due to the U.S. Treasury, potentially leaving taxpayers on the hook for a retirement program the Postal Service is legally required to pay for.
Several Representatives and Senators have proposed reducing USPS’s financial obligations to its retirement accounts, effectively a bailout. However, this would release the one agency of the federal government that is required to fund their retirement and health care plans from that obligation. At a time when Congress is finally being forced to confront its long term liabilities, this is unacceptable.