Congress has an excellent track record of robbing Peter to pay Paul: moving money around so they can brag to one group that they’re heroes while ignoring how they’ve become villains to another group.
Thanks to some recent bold action, we may need to change the idiom to “robbing Peter to pay Paul, unless Scott has something to say about it.”
Democrats are currently pushing the “Postal Service Reform Act” (HR 3076), a backdoor bailout of the U.S. Post Office that sailed through the House of Representatives on a 342-92 vote. Senate Democrat leadership was so confident in the bill they put it up for unanimous consent, which Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) stopped with a last-minute hold and floor speech.
Because of this, the bill can’t be brought up for a floor vote until March (or later.) This might buy time to change the bill or squash it entirely.
See, the problem is that the world has changed but the Post Office hasn’t, and it’s struggling to keep afloat. People don’t send mail as much as they did before we all had the internet in our pockets and on our wrists. Wedding announcements, party invitations, and even good old fashioned junk mail is mostly done digitally nowadays, and has been for years. USPS lost $1.5 billion on its most recent quarter, which means it could outpace the enormous $4.9 billion it lost last year.
This is the latest of 15 consecutive years of losing money, up to a grand total of $92 billion, with projected losses of another $160 billion over the next 10 years.
A quarter trillion is so much money even Congress needs to worry about it, but the Democrats’ bailout throws a life preserver to USPS rather than requiring it to learn how to swim. Perhaps the worst part of the “reform” legislation is that it would transfer health care obligations of most postal retirees from the agency proper to Medicare.
While this will save USPS $36 billion over 10 years, it shifts the burden onto Medicare, an insolvent program that already can’t serve its own patient base.
Medicare costs are out of control. The program can’t pay for its beneficiaries’ hospital services. Without help, hospital payments will get cut by 9% per year before getting worse and worse.
The Medicare Board of Trustees has warned that Medicare’s hospital insurance trust fund is sailing toward hopeless insolvency by 2026, and its long-term unfunded obligations of $48.3 trillion. That’s about $150,000 per person in the U.S.
Voicing concerns about the risk posed to Medicare include Senators Mike Crapo, Mitch McConnell, and others. If this kind of recklessness is any sign, the situation at the Post Office will get worse under any kind of Democrat reform.
And who really wins if this goes through? USPS gets a momentary abatement, but it’s in the agency’s best interest to get its act together.
The agency is headed for a Titanic-sized iceberg that will sink it once and for all if they don’t make huge, substantive profit-oriented changes. Leaders need to align costs with revenues, develop a variable pricing model, abandon unprofitable products, cut hours at postal locations, and end mail on Saturdays (and possibly other days as well.)
Another shortcoming of the bill is it stops any reform efforts to price mail and package products based on their actual costs, which will allow e-tail giant Amazon to continue taking advantage of its generous taxpayer subsidy.
The U.S. Treasury made every effort to fix the Post Office, but Jeff Bezos and his cronies made a full-court press to extend these fiscal problems. The current Administration is happy to turn a blind eye, or as Amazon insists “serve every address in the nation!”
Adding insult to the bill, Democrats even insist it will help the supply-chain catastrophe, which they blame on USPS rather than their own terrible economic policies!
USPS presents problems that need to be dealt with, not rushed through without the proper opportunity to push back. The cynic in us understands that measures like this are not about helping Americans serving political interests, but the optimist hopes we can put the Post Office on the right course.
We don’t want Congress to rob Peter to pay Paul so it can ruin Medicare to buy Jeff another superyacht.
Jared Whitley is a long-time politico who has worked in the U.S. Congress, White House and defense industry. He is an award-winning writer, having won best blogger in the state from the Utah Society of Professional Journalists (2018) and best columnist from Best of the West (2016). He earned his MBA from Hult International Business School in Dubai. Read Jared Whitley's reports — More Here.
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