Over the last year, there’s been a lot of talk in the news about the Postal Service’s financial situation, in addition to a multitude of suggestions about how to best “fix” the Service. When independent news outlet The Real News heard about a proposal to close an historic post office in downtown Berkeley, CA, as a means to cut costs, one reporter decided to take a closer look at the challenges the USPS faces.
The Real News’ report explains the most pressing problem behind the Postal Service’s struggling finances: a little-known law passed by Congress in 2006 that requires the Postal Service to pre-fund health benefits for future employees 75 years in advance. This means the Postal Service is currently required to make multi-billion-dollar payments each year into a fund for employees who haven’t even been born yet. In fact, the Postal Service is the only agency (private or public) that is mandated by Congress to pre-fund.
This unnecessary pre-funding burden has made it impossible for USPS to stay in the black, and now Congress is talking about forcing service cuts and workforce restructuring. But a thoughtful solution should address the pre-funding mandate before it resorts to potentially devastating cuts in service.
Check out the video to see The Real News’ full report.