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USPS at risk at not making payroll?

Elections have *consequences*.

Back last month, House Minority Leader John Boehner made the following comment about government-run health care options:

“Listen, if you like going to the DMV and you think they do a great job, or you like going to the post office and think it’s the most efficient thing you’ve run into, then you’ll love the government-run health care system that they’re proposing because that’s basically what you’re going to have,”

…to which a variety of people who do, indeed, love the DMV/Post Office as examples of government-run agencies reacted in various levels of reflexively sardonic befuddlement.  The DMV comparison was usually skipped over, in favor of the USPS: after all, what’s wrong with them?  44 cents for a stamp, send it out, gets where it’s going.  Great, right?

Sure.  Until they can’t make payroll.

The presidents of the American Postal Workers Union, National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, National Association of Letter Carriers and National Postal Mailhandlers Union co-signed the Tuesday letter to White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, warning that the U.S. Postal Service is at risk of defaulting on a $5.4 billion payment to prefund retiree health benefits at the end of September.

The letter alleges that USPS “may not be able to make payroll in October and will be forced to issue IOUs instead.”

Yvonne Yoerger, a spokeswoman for USPS, confirmed that the unions wrote the letter but disputed the claim that payroll deadlines will be missed.

“That’s not something that’s been discussed at all,” she said. “We are committed to making payroll.”

Via The Other McCain. This article explains things a bit more clearly: the problem that the USPS is facing is that it’s stuck between dismal revenues (a 2.8 billion dollar loss in 2008) and mandated services, locations, and full pension funding. They’re now telling Congress that something has to give (above and beyond the 100 million work hours that they’re cutting this year); either they get to shut down locations, end Saturday service, amend the law requiring them to fully fund their pensions… or they get a bailout from Congress. Or they could not make payroll in October, and never mind what the PR spokesperson said.  At a guess, expect a bailout: after all, we can’t very well do without a postal service.  Also expect increased prices, worse service, fewer locations, and a permanent government subsidy; but don’t expect reduced pension plans being offered in the future, because the USPS is unionized.

And if the Democrats get their way, expect the same thing to happen with health care down the line.

Moe Lane

PS: I would like to note for the record that the federal government was more or less functional when the GOP handed Congressional oversight over it to the Democrats in 2007.

Um, what happened?

Crossposted to Moe Lane.

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