How Republicans Crippled The United States Postal Service

GOP efforts to cripple the Postal Service predate the current tea party "cut government spending" drumbeat echoing throughout Washington during these difficult economic times.
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"Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds," reads the unofficial motto of the United States Postal Service.

I guess no one ever thought it would be the Republican Party finishing off the Postal Service when those words were borrowed from the ancient Greek and chiseled in granite over the entrance to the James Farley Post Office in New York City on Labor Day in 1914.

Our postal system is quite remarkable if you think about it for a minute.

For just 44 cents, you can send a Mother's Day card from anywhere in the United States to the woman who carried you for nine months providing she lives in the United States and it will arrive in a matter of days. Or as Comedy Central's Jon Stewart more simply quipped, "Someone comes to your house, takes something you've written, and brings it to a person that you want them to give it to anywhere in the world for like 50 cents" before deadpanning, "oh, but it's going to take a couple of days."

The power to create post offices is enumerated in our Constitution. Our Postal Service is even fully funded by the sale of stamps, not through tax dollars. That is a combo that should bring tears of joy to the eyes of tea partiers and Republicans alike.

GOP efforts to cripple the Postal Service predate the current tea party "cut government spending" drumbeat echoing throughout Washington during these difficult economic times.

Five years ago, during the Bush administration, the Postal Service handled the largest volume of mail ever seen in its 236-year history. It was in that year, that the Republican controlled Congressed passed the Postal Accountability Enhancement Act (PAEA).

The legislation's title certainly sounds pretty great. But, as is the case with so much in Washington, the words chosen were simply window dressing for a very destructive proposal.

As's Allison Kilkenny recently reported, by passing PAEA, Congressional Republicans mandated that within 10 years the United States Postal Service would have to fully fund retirement health care benefits for the next 75 years. Or to put it more plainly, the Postal Service had a decade to fully fund the retirement health care benefits for future employees that will not even be born until 2057 at the earliest.

Of course, if tea partiers succeed in repealing child labor laws (because we all know that little hands are better for cutting stamps) we can probably drop that year to the mid-2040s.

Interestingly, this dreadful law holds a delicious bite of irony in that it requires government-funded universal health care benefits for Americans that will not be born for a generation.

Imagine what the right would say if President Obama and the Democrats proposed legislation that required businesses and corporations to fully fund health care benefits for all of their current workers and workers who haven not even been born yet.

Socialist. Communist. Marxist. Maoist. Pick any of the ists. They would call Obama a cartoonist if they thought it would kill the bill.

The only reason we keep hearing so much about the Postal Service's impending budget shortfall is because PAEA requires that on September 30 a down payment be made on the health care benefits of postal workers 75 years into the future. This law has forced the Postal Service into the red for two years running.

In the end, Republicans know the Postal Service is a government agency that works well for Americans. And you know the GOP cannot have an example of good government floating around out there lest it get in the way of their political aspirations.

Why let a self-funding government agency flourish when you can privatize it and make your corporate cronies even richer?

Left to the Republicans, we would probably start receiving our mail intermittently from some smelly, scruffy, raggedly dressed character on horseback like Kevin Costner from The Postman, 1997's worst picture Razzie award winner.

It is enough to make you go, well, postal.

Rather than collecting federal scalps to appease its insatiable anti-government appetite, the GOP would do better by the American people if it became a Party of philatelists, or stamp collectors for my friends on the right who believe strange sounding words have an intrinsic liberal bias just like the media, science, math, letters, numbers, and the truth.

Karl Frisch is a syndicated columnist and Democratic strategist at Bullfight Strategies in Washington, D.C. He can be reached at You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and YouTube, or sign up to receive his columns and updates by email.

Distributed by the Cagle Cartoons Inc. syndicate. For information on carrying Karl's columns, click here.

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