In 2006, Congress passed a law that imposed extraordinary costs on the U.S. Postal Service. The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) required the USPS to create a $72 billion fund to pay for the cost of its post-retirement health care costs, 75 years into the future. This burden applies to no other federal agency or private corporation.
If the costs of this retiree health care mandate were removed from the USPS financial statements, the Post Office would have reported operating profits in each of the last six years. This extraordinary mandate created a financial “crisis” that has been used to justify harmful service cuts and even calls for postal privatization. Additional cuts in service and privatization would be devastating for millions of postal workers and customers.
In its December 2018 report, President Trump’s Task Force on the United States Postal Service reaffirmed current rules related to postal retiree health benefits, calling it “part of a mandate for postal self-sustainability.” However, the Task Force also recognized that the aggressive and accelerated timetable for funding the mandate has proved unworkable. They call for past deficits to be “restructured with the payments re-amortized with new actuarial calculation based on the population of employees at or near retirement age.”
While this would have a modest positive effect by spreading payments over a longer period of time, it does little to address the underlying problem caused by USPS being burdened with a mandate that no other federal agency or private corporation faces.