We need to save the post office. The Postmaster General wants to close over half of the mail processing centers and over 3,000 mostly rural post offices. And his plan includes laying off almost 220,000 workers. In this economy, that's the last thing we need.
Rural post offices in particular are important institutions. Closing them, especially in areas with little or no access to broadband internet service, could have a major impact on the communities they serve. And closing them won't save much money.
Collectively, all the post offices being considered for closure account for a miniscule amount, four-tenths of one percent, of the postal service's annual budget. As one former Postmaster General said, "That's not even a drop in the bucket. The bucket won't ripple."1
It's true the post office faces financial challenges. But the financial problems are in large part a direct result of an onerous and ill-considered 2006 law that mandates that the postal service pre-fund its retiree health care and pension benefits for 75 years — something that no other government agency or private company is forced to do.
85% of the red ink comes from this pre-funding mandate despite the fact that, according to the Post Office Inspector General, the pension is over-funded and reserves for retiree health care are far higher than the federal government as a whole, the military and almost all Fortune 1000 companies.2
Simply modifying the 2006 pre-funding mandate would provide considerable breathing room for the post office. And while some changes to the post office are certainly necessary to preserve and improve it in the 21st Century, now's not the time to close post offices and cut hundreds of thousands of jobs.
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