5-Day Delivery: Cost Cutting or Congressional Gambit?
As a citizen and a close follower of postal goings on, I realize the United States Postal Service and Postmaster General Patrick Donohoe ultimately are not to blame for the five-day delivery announcement which transpired on February 6. Postal customers, labor unions, direct marketers and Americans in general have reasons to be angry—or at least very concerned—as to what is really going on here.
We all know that it is Congress and the White House—as a whole, not any lawmaker in particular—that largely caused the Postal Service’s recent default and current fiscal mess. Their inability or unwillingness to stop the mandating of 75-year pre-funding of USPS retiree benefits, and the subsequent raiding of those funds for the federal government’s own spending sprees elsewhere, deserves much of the blame.
Cost-cutting and diminishing services to U.S. citizens have been forced on the Postal Service, because a “fiscal cliff” already has arrived at L’Enfant Plaza.
Yes, there are other macroeconomic issues in play at the Postal Service—the digital migration of First-Class Mail, electronic payments and the Great Recession’s most recent effects and after-effects, for example. All the same, forcing such draconian budget mandates on the Postal Service is a serious miscalculation that was (unfortunately) included in the 2006 postal reform law. No other federal agency is held to the same pre-funding benchmark, and even fewer responsibly financed and accountable private pension schemes (there are still a few around) ever look to seven decades to the future.
This needed fixing five years ago, when the economy started to teeter and such rosy views of postal finances quickly began to sour. Here we are in 2013, and we’re still waiting for Congress to act.
The White House hasn’t been helpful either.
Now we’re faced with five-day delivery come August—and we’re left wondering if it can be stopped, reversed, prevented or mitigated, even if Congress and the White House were able and wished to intervene.