March 5, 2014—As it has for the past four years, the Obama administration’s budget proposal for 2015 defers to the misguided wishes of Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe by calling for the end of Saturday mail delivery and for allowing the Postal Service to “begin shifting to centralized and curbside delivery where appropriate.” Rather than eliminate or repeal the pre-funding burden, the budget would simply restructure and re-amortize the liability for future retiree health benefits, pushing the problem off into the future.
The 2015 budget proposal also would make permanent the 4.3 percent exigent postal rate increase enacted in January, an increase that the Postal Regulatory Commission had set to expire in two years.
These budget proposals not only fail to address the main source of the Postal Service’s problems, they also directly threaten nearly 100,000 good postal jobs at a time when the Postal Service’s finances have rebounded strongly.
These proposals, cooked up in the panic of 2009 and 2010 when the Great Recession was in full swing, never made sense: Cutting service is a prescription for driving even more business away. The proposals make even less sense now that the Postal Service is earning operating profits (before one accounts for a pre-funding expense that no other agency or company faces), while an e-commerce boom is pushing the Postal Service to provide service seven days a week.
“The Office of Management and Budget remains under the spell of a misguided postmaster general, a leader who seems committed to sticking to an obsolete austerity plan devised in very different circumstances,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said. “OMB has lazily produced a weak, job-killing postal reform plan that Congress should soundly reject.”
Republican leaders denounced President Obama’s plan as “dead on arrival”—albeit for much different reasons. “Still, ‘dead on arrival’ seems about right to me,” Rolando said. “NALC and other postal stakeholders must come together with our allies in Congress on a plan to help the Postal Service innovate and grow.
“It’s time to maximize the value of our incredible universal networks, not to dismantle them,” Rolando said.
NALC has communicated our views to the Obama administration. White House officials have indicated their willingness to discuss alternative postal reform proposals, and the NALC will pursue those discussions expeditiously.
Meanwhile, the four postal unions will work together to mobilize our members as well as the general public to support a strong and innovative Postal Service.