Issa announces legislation to reform Postal Service
Darrell Issa is very concerned about the fiscal health of the U.S. Postal Service, worrying
about the need to "protect taxpayers from an expensive bailout." He's even turned again to the Daily Caller GOP transcription service to announce newly introduced legislation to "prevent the need for a 'taxpayer bailout.'"
Since the postal service was taxpayer-funded into the 80s and has been borrowing from the Treasury, it isn't clear exactly how a 'taxpayer bailout' would distinguish itself, but it's a bold game of chicken that Issa is playing, threatening to allow an agency actually authorized in the Constitution to founder. While several reformers note that the USPS has already cut $12 billion, laid off more than 100,000 workers, and negotiated pay cuts with its union, Issa's reform plan simply involves firing more people, cutting wages further, and reducing basic postal services.
The Postal Service is undoubtedly in dire straits financially, but Issa's proposal doesn't appear to sufficiently incorporate the identified solutions. As the USPS said in an official statement
Also, we are disappointed that Rep. Issa's bill does not address core issues that Congress needs to address to enable the Postal Service to return to financial stability, including the need to:
Eliminate the current mandates requiring retiree health benefit pre-payments, which costs the Postal Service $5.5 billion annually.
Allow the Postal Service to access Civil Service Retirement System and Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) overpayments. The FERS overpayment is estimated to be $6.9 billion.
The Postal Service is unique in that it is mandated to overpay into its retirement system, but cannot access those overpaid funds or credit them to later years when revenues are struggling. It's like putting money into a savings account to guard against the lean times but not being allowed to withdraw the money when the lean times come. Heck, not even being allowed to temporarily stop saving more during the lean times.
Ironically, as the statement also points out, after six months of railing against any and every sort of regulation on private businesses, Issa's proposed legislation would increase regulation of the Postal Service in order to, by Issa's strained logic, make it operate like a successful private enterprise.
So Issa is applying an explicitly opposite standard to the USPS than he is for every other business venture in the country. He wants less regulation for Big Oil. He wants less regulation for huge polluters. He wants less protection of workplace safety. But with the USPS, he has a chance to regulate union contracts (in the fine tradition of Joe McCarthy
no less), and all of a sudden Issa is a champion of regulations that cut earnings and eliminate jobs.
It's fine -- and wise -- to mix and match potential solutions depending on circumstances. But this further highlights Issa's rhetoric of political convenience, couching a specific political agenda in lofty talk about principle. Issa has very clear targets and very clear allies. If the best way to be pro-corporate is to claim to be anti-regulation, he'll do that. If the best way to be anti-worker is to support regulation, he'll do that also. It's the underlying agenda that matters, the words Issa uses are just incidental.