Postal Ser­vice red ink is Wash­ing­ton’s

The Washington Times Weekly - - Letters To The Editor - FREDRIC ROLANDO Wash­ing­ton

The U.S. Postal Ser­vice is older than the coun­try it­self, de­liv­ers to 153 mil­lion homes and busi­nesses, and con­sis­tently ranks as the pub­lic’s most trusted fed­eral agency. Yet mis­in­for­ma­tion about it abounds. Some such mis­in­for­ma­tion un­for­tu­nately ap­peared in Drew John­son’s col­umn of Oct. 29 (“Postal ser­vice lies cost us bil­lions,” Web). Most egre­gious is the con­stant ref­er­ence to tax­payer money. The postal ser­vice by law re­lies on rev­enue earned sell­ing stamps, not on tax­payer dol­lars.

The postal ser­vice makes a profit de­liv­er­ing the mail. This amounts to a $1.4-bil­lion op­er­at­ing profit in fis­cal 2014 and $1 bil­lion so far this year. As the econ­omy im­proves, let­ter rev­enue has sta­bi­lized. And as peo­ple in­creas­ingly shop on­line, pack­age rev­enue is sky­rock­et­ing.

The red ink stems from Wash­ing­ton pol­i­tics, not the mail. In 2006, a lame-duck Congress man­dated that the postal ser­vice pre-fund fu­ture-re­tiree health ben­e­fits. No other en­tity must pre-fund for even one year; the postal ser­vice must pre-fund 75 years into the fu­ture and pay for it all in a 10-year pe­riod. That $5.6 bil­lion an­nual charge is the red ink.

Some in Wash­ing­ton hope to use this ar­ti­fi­cial fi­nan­cial cri­sis to dis­man­tle or even pri­va­tize the postal ser­vice. But it’s im­por­tant to note that some of the postal ser­vice’s strong­est back­ers are con­ser­va­tives. Why? Be­cause the institution has its ba­sis in the Con­sti­tu­tion. It is crit­i­cal for busi­nesses and ru­ral ar­eas; it is the coun­try’s largest civil­ian em­ployer of mil­i­tary veter­ans; and it is the cen­ter­piece of a $1.3-tril­lion mail­ing in­dus­try that em­ploys 7.5 mil­lion Amer­i­cans. Let­ter car­ri­ers boost com­mu­ni­ties through such ac­tions as con­duct­ing the na­tion’s largest sin­gle-day food drive.

If law­mak­ers ad­dress the pre-fund­ing fi­asco they cre­ated, the postal ser­vice can con­tinue to pro­vide Amer­i­cans with the in­dus­trial world’s most af­ford­able de­liv­ery net­work.

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