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Tuesday, June 28, 2011 

Darrell Issa talks himself in circles on USPS, debt, and pensions


Darrell Issa continues to send mixed messages about the importance of debt servicing this week, again bashing the USPS -- this time for not overpaying into its pension fund in order to balance its budget.
Facing a majorly out-of-balance budget and facing a charge led by Issa himself to prevent more taxpayer support, the package of cuts that the USPS came up with includes temporarily not overpaying into its pension fund. According the the USPS, it would save $800 million this year, but Issa called it a "willful violation of the law."
This is territory where Issa gets into a tough spot. Despite recent efforts to backpedal, Issa has been a strong proponent of the Paul Ryan plan to privatize Medicare, and had been a leader in the attack on public employee pensions. Yet despite a long record of advocating pension cuts to balance budgets, he's attacking the USPS for adopting specifically that strategy. Total lack of consistency except that it's another opportunity for Issa to criticize a government agency, which seems to trump any concern for personal credibility.
Plus, he's talked himself into a tricky spot on the looming vote to raise the debt ceiling. Back in April, Issa sounded reasonable on the issue, pledging that he would vote to raise the debt ceiling instead of allowing the country to default on its loans. But a few weeks ago, he voted against raising the debt ceiling. He later compared the debt ceiling vote to the Titanic in a convoluted metaphor, but skipped over what his price is for preventing the entire country from defaulting on its financial obligations.
So maybe pensions should be cut to close deficits... or they shouldn't. Maybe paying debts is necessary... or maybe it's negotiable. It all apparently depends on when you catch Issa and who he feels like criticizing that day.


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