Congress About to Breach Its Constitutional Duties

Postal Services On the Chopping Block — Wackos in Congress Hot to Kill America’s Government

John Nichols, THE NATION

The plan to end key Saturday services, which has been correctly described by the National Association of Letter Carriers  as “a disastrous idea that would have a profoundly negative effect on the Postal Service and on millions of customers,” is not necessary. Ryan and his fellow proponents of austerity manufactured the current crisis in USPS funding, when they enacted the Postal Accountability & Enhancement Act of 2006 . The PAEA forced the Postal Service to prefund its future healthcare benefit payments to retirees for the next seventy-five years. That’s something no major corporation could or would do, as it required the service to divert more than $5 billion annually to pre-pay the health benefits of retirees who have not yet been hired.

“Slowing mail service and degrading our unmatchable last-mile delivery network are not the answers to the Postal Service’s financial problems,” says the NALC President Fredric Rolando.  “If the Postmaster General is unwilling or unable to develop a smart growth strategy that serves the nearly 50 percent of business mailers that want to keep six-day service, and if he arrogantly thinks he is above the law or has the right to decide policy matters that should be left to Congress, it is time for him to step down.”

Rolando is right. Congress can and should intervene to preserve Saturday delivery, to provide bridge funding for the service and to develop a plan that undoes the damage done by the PAEA and reforms rules so that the Postal Service can compete in the digital era.

This is doable. The Postal Service needs to make changes. No one argues with that. But the changes should — along lines outlined by Bernie Sanders — allow the service to compete with private delivery firms, and they should capitalize on a rural infrastructure that can play an key role in broadband buildout and the development of new financial and community services.

The current leadership of the Postal Service will not save it; they have bought into the austerity lie. Indeed, with the Saturday delivery cut, they are promoting austerity on steroids.

Any move to save the Postal Service requires members of Congress, not just Democrats but responsible Republicans, to reject austerity and get serious about maintaining public services.

This is not an option. It is a constitutional responsibility.

Article I , Section 8, Clause 7 of the U. S. Constitution directs Congress “To establish Post Offices and post roads.”

If Congress will not follow a constitutional charge to protect the Postal Service, should we really expect that it will defend Social Secuity, Medicare, Medicaid and other public services? The question should tell us that the work of preserving and expanding the Postal Service is an essential battle in the fight against the austerity lie.

— Excerpt from THE NATION (Feb 6, 2013)

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