PUBLISHER’S NOTE: While The Golden Hammer does not necessarily agree with the positions stated in this Guest Editorial, the writer, Eric Hall, who lives in Frisco in Collin County north of Dallas, is a real up-and-comer in the Republican Party in Texas and someone whom people should take very seriously. We appreciate his submission of this interesting and well-written piece.
Eric Hall, Guest Editorialist
With the news cycle constantly filled with discussions revolving around the tax bill, presidential tweets, and pervasive sexual harassment, a major issue has been all but forgotten. The United States Postal Service (USPS) is on the brink of disaster due to having unfunded liabilities for decades that have threatened its entire operation. This disaster could affect more than half a million Texans who are employed by the mailing industry. And while it is understandable Congressional Leadership is distracted by huge legislative pushes for healthcare and tax reform, the USPS is in dire need of help, and we need Congressman Brady as the Chairman of Ways and Means to act on the postal reform legislation that is sitting stagnant his committee.
Despite an increase in revenue this year, the USPS posted a $5.6 billion loss in 2016. Since 2006, the USPS has been required by Congress to pre-fund retiree health benefits. In 2016, that created a required $5.8 billion payment that far exceeded its controllable income of $610 million. This, along with the many other issues confronting the USPS, makes the need for legislative action all too apparent.
In response, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee leaders introduced House Bill 756, “The Postal Service Reform Act of 2017.” The bill addresses the unfunded liabilities of the USPS, makes reforms to keep mailing costs affordable for consumers, and encourages innovation, all without asking for additional borrowing capacity from U.S. taxpayers. The bill has the support of four major postal unions, private industry and the committee’s leadership from both parties, including House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC). In addition, this is a rare example of a completely bipartisan bill in a political environment where bipartisanship seems like a pipe-dream. With all the turmoil in Washington these days, a much-needed, bipartisan bill like this could be an easy win for the GOP, the Trump Administration, and our government in general.
The USPS is a vital governmental service many Americans could not survive without. But, if it is to survive, it must be made more efficient while keeping the promises made to its customers and employees. HR 756 accomplishes these goals.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, this legislation would create Unified Budget Savings of at least $2.2 billion. It will streamline and secure mail delivery through cluster boxes for eligible businesses and voluntary residential conversions. It will also strengthen accountability for the Postmaster General and improve oversight by having the Postal Regulatory Commission review postage rates and mail delivery performance.
HR 756 will also keep promises to customers and employees without asking for more from taxpayers. It will do this by guaranteeing pension liability by officially making USPS responsible for accrued pension liabilities. It will improve USPS employee health care by improving coordination of care through a USPS-only health care plan integrated with Medicare. It will emphasize local service opportunities by having USPS provide state, local, and tribal government services at local post offices, reducing the cost of service and raising revenue. And, in addition to this, it will support rural access by obtaining local community input on post office closures, giving citizens a voice on this vital issue.
The reforms in HR 756 protect the taxpayer from a huge financial burden of a failed USPS and its unfunded liabilities and continues to deliver a needed service to its customers and businesses that depend on it. Much of what the bill would do is in the weeds of postal finances, dealing with the nitty-gritty of health benefits for employees and retirees, pensions, governance and contracting. Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan said the provision requiring postal retirees to fully participate in Medicare is key because it “would essentially eliminate our unfunded liability for retiree health benefits,” a significant driver of the problems associated with the USPS.
These essential reforms will help to get the USPS back in the black and ensure that the greeting cards, gifts, and other holiday items sent via mail continue to arrive in a timely, efficient and safe manner. But, nothing is going to be achieved without strong leadership from the House GOP and Congressman Brady. If Congressman Brady fails to step up, do his job and fight to get this bill to the house floor, the USPS will continue to decline and every American will suffer as a result.
Eric Hall is a U.S. Army Veteran who serves on the Collin County Republican Party Executive Committee as an elected Precinct Chairman, is the Chairman of Collin County Young Republicans and is the Political Director for the Texas Young Republican Federation.