Thursday, September 24, 2009

Postal Gets A $4 Billion Break

In the last-minute wrangling in Congress to finish spending as much as they can before the new fiscal year starts, the U.S. Postal Service gets a $4 billion break.

A $4 billion bailout for the Postal Service? (9/24/09 Politico)

"The House voted Thursday to freeze Medicare Part B premiums for most elderly next year, even as Democrats moved to exempt the Postal Service from having to make $4 billion in payments due next week to cover retirement health benefits for its employees.

"The back-to-back actions reflect a flurry of last minute multi-billion-dollar fixes, often without warning, as the government approaches the new fiscal year beginning next Thursday, Oct. 1.

"At a meeting of House and Senate Appropriations Committee negotiators Thursday morning, the Postal Service language was incorporated into a stop-gap continuing resolution, or CR, that Congress must enact in the next week to keep the full government operations. As adopted, the postal agency, which now faces a liability of $5.4 billion due Sept. 30, would have to pay only $1.4 billion and would be allowed to effectively defer the remaining $4 billion until after 2017."

I fondly recall President Obama comparing the U.S. Postal Service to FedEx and UPS, when he was discussing the so-called "public option" or government insurance vs private insurance. If the public option is to be just as competitive and efficient and self-sustaining as the Postal Service, we (taxpayers) will have a problem. I don't think it's going to be mere $4 billion either.


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