Susan Collins Caught Shadily Sabotaging U.S. Postal Service

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Maine’s Republican Senator Susan Collins is one of those who helped sink the Postal Service’s finances in the lead-up to the current crisis, as a new report from Washington Monthly explains. She was one of the main backers of George W. Bush-era legislation that demanded that the Postal Service prepay health benefits for retirees “according to a 50-year schedule, starting with 10 years of statutorily prescribed payments of roughly $5 billion from 2007 to 2017,” as PolitiFact explains. David Partenheimer, a spokesperson for the Postal Service, told PolitiFact that “the pre-funding requirement included in the 2006 law is a major reason for our financial situation, along with an outdated business model” — and, again, it’s Sen. Collins who helped impose that requirement for the Postal Service to set aside billions of dollars every year.

As Washington Monthly explains:

‘In 2005, [Collins] sponsored and introduced legislation, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA), that required the USPS to pre-pay the next 50 years worth of health and retirement benefits for all of its employees—a rule that no other federal agency must follow. As chair of the Senate oversight panel at the time, she shepherded the bill’s passage, along with her House GOP counterpart Tom Davis, during a lame-duck session of Congress. It passed by a voice vote without any objections—a maneuver that gave members little time to consider what they were doing.’

Besides the requirement for billions of dollars every year to be set aside for future benefits for retirees, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) even “prohibited the agency from any new activities outside of delivering mail,” Washington Monthly explains. In the age of the internet, when first-class mail volumes continue to decline year after year, that’s yet another major impediment to the financial success at the Postal Service that Republicans claim to be after. Currently, the Postal Service “has $160.9 billion in debt, of which $119.3 billion is the result of pre-funding retiree benefits,” Washington Monthly explains, meaning that the Republicans themselves, like Collins, are the ones partly responsible for what they’re trying to fix.

The Trump-allied Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, has faced steep criticism for recent policy changes that he implemented that had the effect of slowing down the mail with not long to go until the general election, when, thanks to the Coronavirus, high levels of mail-in ballots are expected to be used. The changes that have driven the slowdowns include alleged cancellation of overtime opportunities for many workers, the removal of mail sorting machines, and more.

Recently, DeJoy claimed that policy changes would be suspended in order to “avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail,” but it remains to be seen how exactly that promised suspension plats out. He’s set to testify before the House Oversight Committee on Monday.

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