USPS gets a bailout
The Post Office is next in line for a bailout:
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.
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.
“That’s good news” said a Postal Service spokesman, who argued the arrangement posed no risk for the taxpayer since the retirement fund holds $32 billion at this time. Nonetheless, critics argued the $4 billion will now be added as a potential cost on the government’s books given the fragile state of the Postal Service, and the whole handling of the issue is seen by many as a parliamentary sleight-of-hand.
Republicans made no effort to target the postal provision but complained it had been added without warning to the otherwise non-controversial 30 day resolution.
According to the Government Accountability Office, the Post Office is expected to lose $7 billion this year and have more than $13 billion in debt by the end of 2010. Despite this, one of the most glaring example of government inefficiency, they will receive a bailout from Congress over privatization, which is the best way to fix the USPS.