The creation of the post office is mandated in Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution. It has been and to this date is a vital part of our nation's infrastructure. Today's postal service came into being in its current form as the direct result of a wildcat strike that began in March of 1970.
President Richard Nixon considered using the army as letter carriers, but quickly realized that would not work. The strike resulted in the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970, which recognized a new union and created today's United States Postal Service. Before 1970, often a postal worker could not make ends meet without having another job. Today we have an entity that will take a letter sent from Rochester, Minnesota, and deliver it two days later to Baltimore, Maryland for half a buck while providing a living wage to those it employs.
Fast forward to December 2006 H.R. 6407; The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act was passed in the Republican-controlled Senate two days after it was introduced in the Republican-controlled House. It was subsequently signed into law by Republican George W. Bush. One of the provisions in this hastily passed law requires the USPS to prefund ALL of it's retirees health benefits 75 years into the future. That's right. The USPS is supposed to set aside money for the future health benefits for people that haven't even been born yet. The USPS has $11.5 billion due in two payments on August 1 and September 30. On August 1 the Postmaster General will announce that USPS cannot make its payment.
While I am sure this will make the news, I am not so sure any major news outlet will report that this a completely made up crisis for the postal service. This bill (with only three cosponsors when introduced into the House) was designed as a ticking time bomb. The fact that it is exploding at a time like this is just extra gravy for those who would privatize the post office. Federal employment is already at a 10 year low. Using this “crisis” to lay off postal employees would just add fuel to the fire, exacerbating an already untenable unemployment situation.
Privatizing the post office would allow the private sector to break the unions that have worked so hard to make the USPS what it is today. Destroying unions, reducing pay and benefits on the alter of profits will not improve service. It will not increase employment. It will not decrease hard-working Americans' increasing dependence on food stamps and other welfare programs. It will make someone somewhere millions of dollars, and in all likelihood end Saturday mail service, and maybe even the post office as we know it. So next week when it is announced the USPS is defaulting on it's obligations, pay attention to the way this news is presented. You can be sure talk of privatization is not far off.
USPS Manufactured Default By Dennis Kucinich on 1 August 2012 for Kucinich.gov - (http://kucinich.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=305419) Video above: Kucinich speech on House floor 8/1/12 on USPS default. From (http://youtu.be/ZqZ-B2cWVr0). Today, the United States Postal Service (USPS) will default on a payment that it should have never been required to pay. Legislation passed by Congress in 2006 requires the USPS to prefund retirement benefits up to 75 years in advance. On the House Floor, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) called this a “manufactured default” and said that Congress is “presiding over the disestablishment of the Postal Service.”
See Congressman Kucinich on the House Floor here. Congressman Kucinich also spoke at length about the Postal Service on Democracy Now. See that interview here. The full text of Congressman Kucinich’s remarks on the House Floor follows.
Article 1, Section 8, Clause 7 of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the responsibility to establish and ensure operation of the Postal Service.
Today, August 1, 2012 - 224 years after the Constitution was ratified - Congress is presiding over the disestablishment of the Postal Service.
Today a manufactured default created by Congressional legislation is pushing the Postal Service to the brink. Today the Postal Service will not make a payment that it should never have had to make in the first place to pay for prefunding 75 years of retiree benefits in 10 years. A manufactured default encouraged by banks and other interest groups. A move toward privatization of one of America’s most vital services.
The Congress has a responsibility to stand up, but here in the U.S.A., under Citizens United, everything is up for auction including the Postal Service.
Wake up, America. Universal service is on the line. Wake up, America and stand up for the Constitution. 575,000 Postal Service workers and our obligation to the American people to see to it that the Postal Service is rescued from those who want to push it into default or privatize it for their own profit..