Congress Is Stealing the Post Office's Lunch Money!


The American Postal Workers Union took out some ads this summer aimed at convincing the American people that the U.S. Postal Service is not a big black hole of taxpayer dollar suckitude. And the ads are pretty convincing:

The post office has been posting massive losses since 2007, reasonable sounding announcer guy admits. But it's not our fault! The USPS is laboring under "a burden no other agency or company bears." Congress is stealing our hard earned stamp money, for unspecified but definitely probably unfair reasons. Also, we deliver medicine!

Just one problem: The ads are utterly misleading. Take it away, Reason columnist Greg Beato!:

Closing a small-town post office, or even a couple thousand small-town post offices, isn't going to put much of a dent into the $8.5 billion deficit the USPS recorded in 2010 or the $3.8 billion deficit it racked up the previous year. The postal service's most pressing fiscal crisis arises from a provision in the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act that requires it to prefund its Retiree Health Benefits Fund at the rate of approximately $5.6 billion a year from 2007 to 2016; the agency has not been able to make those payments without running up huge deficits.

Asking the the post office prefund their pension and benefit liabilities is unusual, but is hardly an extreme request. Of course, the post office isn't the only entity, public or private, that is about to run into some serious trouble on that front.

I'm not sure I'd agree with reasonable announcer guy that "Congress created this problem" in any real way. But I'm quite sure he's wrong that "Congress can fix it."