Tuesday, March 13, 2012

In case you were wondering...

If neither rain nor snow nor dead of night can stop the US Post Office, now we can add a new non-stopper: Congress.

This is the same Congress that has handicapped the post office with massive early retirement payments...the same Congress that is up in arms about the huge deficit that the USPS is running...the same Congress that is insisting that the Post Office get its house in order. Or else.

And yes, it is the same august body that is unwilling to accept the post office's Hail Mary plans to trim delivery to 5 days a week, close underutilized facilities, and lay off (or grant early retirement to) thousands of postal workers to help curb the gaping deficit.

What made Congress change its tune?

When Congress wasn't arguing amongst itself about national debt ceilings, recess appointments, and photos of peers proudly preening in their underwear...

When Congress actually stopped its chasing-its-own-tail Red state vs Blue state sniping and Republican vs Democrat spatting that have gotten this country absolutely no where...
One day Congress woke up and discovered THIS IS AN ELECTION YEAR!

"OH NO!" Congresspersons of all ilks suddenly realized, "If the Post Office went forward with its plans to consolidate operations, then political mail-my ticket to reelection-might be jeopardized!"

Hence in December of 2011, Congress asked that the Post Office consolidate or close no postal facility prior to May 15, 2012, thereby protecting the sanctity of the primaries, caucuses and other political shenanigans taking place this spring.

Since the political season takes on new fervor and ferocity after the conventions in July and August, Congress again appealed to the USPS to forego closures after September 1.

The agreement left May 15 to August 31 as fair game for closures.

There is but one small fly in the ointment. The Post Office has announced loudly and often that it will be bankrupt by Labor Day if its plans to consolidate and close are not implemented immediately. But this agreement with Congress will prevent that from happening...unless there's a miracle.

Since the Post Office is prevented from downsizing by the very body that is the judge, jury and executioner, (and coincidentally the potential chief beneficiary of delaying closures)...this blatant conflict of interest may require Congress to give the USPS what it truly needs: a "too big to fail" monetary infusion at the eleventh hour. And maybe a reconsideration of that odious retirement requirement.

But if Congress lives up to its usual level of teetering on the brink of disaster long enough to give each of the 435 members ample opportunity to have his/her say in front of friendly TV cameras, then on August 31st-after the USPS has closed 2 small post offices in remote Alaska-then Congress will vote the Post Office a huge amount of money to tide it over until after the elections in November.

After all, the political mail must not be imperiled.

Remember: You read it here first. 

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