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Yes, Republicans are trying to shut down the United States Postal Service

Feb 12, 2013

By now, you’ve probably heard the news that the United States Postal Service is to stop delivering mail on Saturdays.

To many, this comes as little surprise. After all, we live in an age of email where letters don’t need to be sent nearly as often as they did 10 or 15 years ago. To connect with another human being, you can reach them through the computer, but the answer as to why the USPS has been hemorrhaging has nothing to do with that.

What’s happening is that, in accordance with a 2006 law, the USPS is currently paying into pension funds for employees that have not even been born yet. That’s right: in 2006, Republican lawmakers led by Virginia Rep. Tom Davis III passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act passed a bill that made it prefund its pension benefits for the next 75 years. That equals roughly $5.5 billion in pensions annually. No other government agency has ever been made to do that. Not the U.S. Army, not the Department of Justice, none of ‘em.

That means that the USPS as an entity is currently $20 billion in debt instead of having a $1.2 billion surplus, which it would have had if the strange Republican law hadn’t been passed.

You might think the Republicans did this because the USPS was taking tax dollars. That is not the case. The USPS is funded entirely by postage sales.

What is the end game for the Republicans ready to take down an agency that is (slightly) older than America itself? Well, to make privately owned companies a whole lot richer. By taking out public mail — the one institution that touches and is used by literally every American from coast to coast — FedEx, UPS and DHL stand to make billions upon billions of dollars. Want to mail a letter using DHL in 2020? They might charge you $5 to do so just because they can, not the $0.46 that the United States Postal Service charges.

While some Congressional moves are made to make sense out of complicated issues, this seems like a complete no-brainer: Congress seems ready to screw all of America over just to make a quick buck. Stick up for the postal service, friends. It might be your last chance until we’re all paying through the nose just to send mail.

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