November 15, 2018
Unable to find a fatal flaw in our far-flung public mail delivery network, the anti-Postal Service forces manufactured a fake flaw. In 2006, then-president George W. Bush, congressional Republican leaders, the powerful “privatizer lobby” (including FedEx, UPS and Wall Street speculators) and Koch-funded think tanks and Astroturf front groups colluded to put a one-of-a-kind paper “debt” on the books of USPS. Congress enacted a postal-service “enhancement” provision requiring the public postal corporation to pre-fund the health and pension benefits for all postal-service retirees 75 years in advance! Think about that. This arbitrary, wholly unprecedented, legislated requirement to pay now for the retirement benefits of future employees (including those not even born yet) has piled a false cost of about $5 billion a year on the debit side of the agency’s balance sheet.
By cooking the books with this false entry, the right wing has been able to wail that our Postal Service is broke and continuing to bleed money, endangering taxpayers with a massive bailout. As you’d expect, Fox News and the entire gaggle of alt-right media screechers keep flinging this falsehood far and wide. And this year, their most gullible fan and leader of the “free world” has joined the fling-fest, bloviating in serial tweets about “our money losing post office” and, in the official text of his executive order to form a postal task force, rubber-stamped the Chicken Little myth that “USPS is on an unsustainable financial path and must be restructured.”
Chances are that you, too, have been caught up in their lie, because supposedly responsible, mainstream news sources (Washington Post, AP, network TV channels, NPR, etc.) have swallowed it whole and routinely repeat it unedited and in unison. At the end of each fiscal year, when USPS is compelled by law to announce yet another multibillion-dollar “loss,” mass media outlets report the dramatic number without explaining the bookkeeping hoax hidden in it.
This artificial, 75-year pre-funding decree is an absurd burden that no other corporation or government agency is forced to carry. Take it away, and voila! The Postal Service is a moneymaker. Since 2014, it has posted operating profits totaling $2.7 billion — a healthy average of $900 million a year.
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