We know that the United States Post Service (USPS) needs to be reformed or it will go bankrupt. The Senate has unfortunately been more interested in trying to provide the Post Office with a $41 billion taxpayer-funded bailout rather than allowing the agency to make the necessary reforms that would bring it back into the black on its own.
The Senate ignored the USPS's own suggestions to shut down offices and shrink their workforce in order to consolidate and save money. Ironically, without reform, more offices would close and even more workers would lose their jobs.
Enter Congressmen Dennis Ross (R-FL) and Darrell Issa (R-CA), who have introduced the Postal Reform Act of 2011 (H.R.2309), which would prevent yet another taxpayer bailout and implement "sweeping, structural reforms." When introducing the legislation, Represenative Issa explained the current situation:
"The Postal Service lost $8.5 billion last year. It is going to lose, at least, $8.3 billion this year. And it is projected to lose $8.5 billion the year after that. Congress can't keep kicking the can down the road on out of control labor costs and excess infrastructure of USPS and needs to implement reforms that aren't a multi-billion dollar taxpayer funded bailout."
The Postal Reform Act would (among other things):
- Create the Postal Service Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority which would restructure the Postal Service in order to bring it back to fiscal solvency. This authority will be disbanded as soon as it is clear that the USPS is in good financial health;
- Create the Commission on Postal Reorganization (CPR) to recommend postal facility closures and consolidations to Congress, saving the USPS at least $2 billion a year. These recommendations will become law if Congress does not reject them;
- Allows the USPS to end Saturday delivery of mail;
- Remove legal hurdles to allow the USPS to reduce its own costs;
- Eliminates the benefit disparity between postal workers and other federal workers. If enacted, this provision would have saved taxpayers over $700 million in fiscal year 2010. It would also ensure that postal wages are in line with private sector wages and;
- Requires USPS employees to pay the same amount into their health and life insurance policies as other federal workers.
If the USPS is going to compete in the 21st century, it needs to run itself more like a business and less like an agency of the federal government. Congressmen Ross and Issa are trying to do just that.