COLUMN: A Malat Musing: Silence Propels Despicable Contrivance

Created: 12/04/2012 10:18 AM KSTP.com By: Phil Malat

During this past election cycle we were inundated with JOBS! JOBS! JOBS! And MORE JOBS!!! 

Yet not one word was devoted to the U.S. Postal Service. 

In 2005 the Postal Service had no debt. In 2006 legislation was passed and signed into law by President George W. Bush that required the U.S. Postal Service to prefund their benefit programs for the next seventy-five (75) years within an astonishing ten-year time frame.

That required the post office to begin making annual payments of $5.5 billion dollars to meet this new requirement. This and this alone, has forced the post office into the very real threat of insolvency. The post office has now exceeded its federal debt limit and is currently in the red to the tune of $15.9 billion. 

To stop the bleeding the Postal Master General has stated that 3,700 postal branches would have to eventually be closed which would eliminate 200,000 postal jobs. 

In an attempt to stave off this calamity, the senate has passed legislation that would return $11 billion in over payments from the benefits fund (the amount needed to make the benefits fund whole versus the 75 year requirement) to the Post Office.

That would leave the post office with a remaining debt of $4.9 billion which could easily be managed through increased postal rates and modernization through an increase in services offered.

In effect, all these jobs could be saved and all the problems solved without spending one nickel of taxpayer money – which is exactly the same taxpayer amount spent in support of the Post Office last year – ZERO.  Crisis averted, right? But Wait! “Houston, we have a problem.” 

Thus far the House of Representatives has failed to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. 

Failure by the House to pass the Senate bill and put it on the president’s desk before the end of December will result in the immediate closure of 260 offices and place 35,000 workers on unemployment with the very real threat of jeopardizing up to as many as 100,00 jobs.        

Was Mitt Romney speaking for those Republicans who control the US House Of Representatives when he was preaching JOBS! JOBS! JOBS! And MORE JOBS!!! And if so, why aren’t they acting on this crucial Senate legislation to save these Post Office jobs?

With the stronger mandate Democrats received in the last election, why are we not hearing from President Obama, Senator Harry Reid and Representative Nancy Pelosi on the crucial necessity of repealing this totally unwarranted and insane 75 year mandate to prefund postal benefits that needlessly threatens all these JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!

This despicable contrivance demands public accountability fueled by public outrage, yet the sound of JOBS! JOBS! JOBS! And MORE JOBS!!! - has instead been replaced with the sound of silence.

Phil Malat is a columnist for KSTP.com.