The U.S. Postal Service is tottering on the edge of irrelevance. If it survives, it will function pretty much as a small-town grocery store chain with limited services and staff and little to do with your daily lives.
The selection of Paul Ryan to fill out the Republican ticket and the postal crisis provides us with a teachable moment and a reason to vote out every Republican and every DINO in every office across the great land.
By way of review, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act was signed into law December 20, 2006. Title 8 of that legislation contains its most deplorable wording possible for postal employees and citizens who depend on postal services for their living and their mail – the inserted section 8909a spells out the logistics for prepaying the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefit Fund. Beginning September 30, 2007 through September 30th, 2016, the postal service must pay in annual installments of roughly 5 ½ Billion dollars to pre-pay a total of 75 years worth of retiree health care benefits. The bill was co-sponsored by 2 Democrats and passed unanimously.
Without that requirement, the last 3 years would have shown a profit.
About 3,300 Post Offices are slated for closure mostly based on how much money an office brings in. The specific number of actual closures to this date is hard to come by. There was an original list of 3,652 named in the frigidly-titled, Retail Access Optimization Act (RAOI). Postal employees have been told to expect “mass closures.”
What does all this have to do with Paul Ryan? Lots! His wife is almost as concerning as Ryan. Janna Ryan, the Jan Hooks look-alike, is a hell of lot more than the quiet, benign, Janesville “Mommy of the year.” She’s a hard-assed, tough cookie, major league lobbyist emeritus who doubtlessly maintains her file of hundreds of insider lobbying and legislative contacts that she’ll put to good use if she returns to DC. She’s always publicly painted as an ink and numbers Tax Attorney. Yes, she was trained in that legal discipline, but she made her Washington bones as a high end lobbyist. With heavy hitting clients ranging from the Pharmaceutical Industry, big oil and most interesting for our purposes, UPS.
She was a major, if not THE major lobbyist in a successful attempt a decade or so ago, to beat back a bill that would have given the Postal Service permission to add services that would have substantially added to the bottom line. “Mommy” went to work to defeat that perfectly acceptable bill. Not for the American people who would have benefited from those services and their easy availability, but for the people who filled her Gucci handbag with Ben Franklin’s. As I’ve said before, the combination of a long-time Congressman and a former heavyweight lobbyist couldn’t be more Washington ‘insider’ and immediately opens the doors that matter to a new, tax-evading huckster President.
There are 26,680 Post Offices and 5,610 stations and branches in this fine country. So padlocking roughly 10% of them doesn’t seem like a huge deal. But as postal workers well know, the full frontal attack on their livelihoods goes beyond mere closures. I mean there are unions to break and competitive ass to be kissed – smootch, smootch, right, Janna?
Most of the public is not familiar with something called the Post Office Structure Plan or the POStPLAN as its generally depicted in print. When this thing goes into full effect, it will impact roughly half of all Post Offices. The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) just issued an advisory opinion on the plan that has its implementation moving ahead at warp speed. The pain will start to be felt as early as November.
Rather than close a Post Office in its entirety, hours will be cut – sometimes severely. The plan is supposedly seen as a less hurtful alternative to ROAI, which continues to close Post Offices anyway. At the end of the day, you’re going to see both initiative in full bloom. As a practical matter, it’s in addition to, not instead of. POStPLAN for example kicks out every Postmaster at the 13,000 affected facilities. For what purpose is unclear. Interestingly enough, the Postmaster’s Association gave its blessing to the plan months ago, so there’s something going on behind the scenes to assuage those who might lose their jobs.
If more than 2 real investigative reporters existed in this country, it would be a natural to follow up on.
It’s somewhat shocking, though not really, to profile the current 5 Commissioners of the PRC who are either eager to send postal workers to the unemployment line or cost them half their salaries. There are 3 Republicans and 2 Democrats. One of the Republicans, Robert Taub was former Chief of Staff for Republican House member, John McHugh who sponsored the draconian Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act that got the “destroy the Post Office” ball rolling. Incredibly, Taub actually wrote the bill for his boss. More incredibly, he was appointed Commissioner by our current ‘non-partisan’ President.
Mark Acton is another Commissioner and Republican and Obama appointee. He was once a high-profile staffer for the Republican National Committee. Tony Hammond, the other Republican member was nominated by G.W. Bush and then appointed to fill an unexpired term by ‘you guessed it’.
George Bush appointee, Nancy Langley, appears to be the only true-blue dem in the crowd, though she had something to do with the drafting of post-office killing bill as well. Ruth Gold, a Democrat is Chair of the Commission. Among her qualifications, her husband was a former Ambassador. She was first appointed by Bill Clinton, and subsequently reappointed by Bush and Obama.
The Republican vicious and unrelenting attacks on the U.S. Postal Service is the canary in the coal mine for our future if Democrats and particularly minorities (10% vote in mid-terms) stay home on November 6th. There are generational implications in this next general election. I know I’m repeating myself and I know state legislative Republican’s are doing everything in their power to keep Democrats from their ‘God’ given right to vote, but more and more the courts are stepping in to defend that right. Enough voting Democrats can make a huge difference for America.
Vote, dear friend. VOTE!!!