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Is The Congressional Budget Committee Really Out To Destroy The Post Office?

United States Postal Service fleet; U.S.A.Some on the Congressional Budget Committee seem to be misguided on what their task is by seriously considering a proposal to eliminate Saturday mail delivery. The Postal Service has reported an operating profit of $600 Million for Fiscal Year 2013. Its first profit since 2008. Parcel revenue soared to an all time record high of $12.5 Billion. Increasing 8% over last year. So you would think that this is a time to increase service not to decrease it. The USPS is growing to the point that some parts of the country have instituted a limited 7 day’s a week parcel service. Its time to grow the service not shrink it.

This week the Congressional Budget Committee is considering sneaking in a poison pill that would in all probability kill the Postal Service over time and eliminate thousands of jobs immediately. This Budget Committee was set up to mitigate the harmful effects of the Federal Shutdown and sequestration on jobs and public services.   Instead  incredibly they are  exacerbating the problem on both fronts by reducing arguably the most popular and effective part of the Federal Government.

Letter Carrier US Postal Service Though the Postal Service makes an operating profit it is under constant attack by some members of Congress because it provides a popular government service delivered by unionized workers. Government Services and unions are the top targets of the privation zeal of the right-wing. Ideology trumps common sense with these politicians. Somehow they never mention that the worlds best Postal Service does not use ONE CENT of tax payer money

This committee is also attacking the entire Federal workforce by taking $20 billion out of government workers paychecks by increasing workers share of retirement costs.

These same members of this budget committee seem to have no issues with spending billions of dollars every year on a F-35 fighter jet program that literally can’t get off the ground. Yet seem hell-bent on reducing a cost neutral public service that unites our entire country.

The Postal Service financial report is only made gloomy due to an unprecedented retiree health care mandate. The mandate requires the Postal Service to fully fund retiree health care benefits decades in advance, was responsible of 100% of FY 2013 losses and 80% of losses implemented in 2007. This mandate has manufactured a postal crisis that is being used by some politicians to dismantle it.

Apparently the elimination of Saturday delivery will be tied to a trigger that can easily be manipulated by congress and result in disaster for millions of Americans who rely on the Postal Service. These same phony triggers were included in Michigan’s notorious anti union legislation Public Act 4. That destructive law was fortunately repealed by voters last month. We must prevent this Budget Committee from making a similar mistake.

Congress expects to unveil its 2014 budget plan on Friday so the time is short to let members of congress know that eliminating Saturday mail delivery is not an option that makes economic sense. It’s a false choice that the Postal Service must shrink to survive.

 

Federal Workers Get Ready Here Comes Congressman Ryan

 Paul Ryan

Congress only has a few more days to act before they take their much UN-needed vacation from Washington.   This Congress is on pace to reach a new record setting low, as the most unproductive Congress in history.

The biggest issue right now — aside from immigration, the ACA, jobs, and the economy, which they are not even talking about right now – is the Federal Budget.  What will be the spending level for the next six months, year, or decade?  That is the million-dollar or should I say trillion-dollar question.

To end the forced government shutdown the parties agreed to finally sit down and hammer out the details of a budget.  Sen. Patty Murray would present her Senate budget and Rep. Paul Ryan would present the House budget.  They were tasked with leading a committee of conference between the two chambers and finalizing a deal that would pass through both houses.   The budget committee has until Dec 13th to report back to the House and Senate leaders with a compromised budget plan.

The key is that if they do not pass a budget on Dec 13 (oh thats Friday the 13th , eerie) they are scheduled to leave for winter break and return in early January.  This would mean that Congress would have about one week to get the budget passed through the House, the Senate, and be signed by the President by January 15th when current funding resolution expires.

Some members of Congress think this is unacceptable and are calling on Speaker Boehner to keep Congress in session until a budget is passed.

This week the beltway press has started reporting on the budget deals being tossed around and there is good news and bad news.  Government Executive is reporting that Sen. Murray and Rep. Ryan are very close to a two-year deal that “set spending levels and soften sequester cuts.” Of course that is if Murray and Ryan can come to an agreement first.

In a meeting with conservative lawmakers on Thursday morning, Ryan told them to expect the framework of a budget agreement to be announced on Tuesday, giving both parties time to study its components.

“If we don’t have a deal by Tuesday, we probably won’t have a deal at all,” Ryan said, according to people in the room.”  (GovExec)

Ezra Klien’s Wankblog is also reporting some good news about the proposed budget.

The budget deal Patty Murray and Paul Ryan are crafting isn’t a “grand bargain.” It doesn’t put the nation’s finances on a vastly different path (or even any different path). It doesn’t reform the tax code or overhaul Medicare. It doesn’t include infrastructure spending or chained-CPI. It doesn’t even replace all of sequestration.

This means that Social Security, and Medicare are safe for another day!  This is good news for millions of seniors and those who are close to retirement.

Now the bad news, the budget does not end the draconian sequester cuts.  It ‘eases’ the cuts.  The budget deal would add $40 billion dollars back into the budget ($25 Billion in the 2015 budget), with half going to military spending and the other half to domestic spending.

This year the GOP cut $4 billion from the SNAP or Food Stamps program.  Not to mention the $40 million from head start programs. The list goes on and on with more and more cuts and forced furloughs and layoffs to federal workers.   This budget will not fix that problem either, only force agencies to operate at a reduced budgetary level.

The irony here is that currently Sen Murray and Rep Ryan are haggling over $65 Billion dollars in the budget.  That is exactly how much we are adding from the current Sequester levels.  Is it a coincidence that, that is how much they are haggling about?

So where are the Republicans going to come up with the extra money to give back to the domestic spending programs?  You guessed it, their favorite secret stash, the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERs).

Rep. Paul Ryan is proposing a dramatic 2% increase on employee contributions to the FERs program, while federal employees have not seen a pay raise in almost 5 years. Federal workers who were hired in 2013 already got whacked with a 2.3% increased contribution over existing employees. Couple the lack of pay raises with the average inflation of around 2%, federal workers are losing money every year just staying in their jobs.  Now Rep Paul Ryan wants workers to take an additional 2% pay cut  — I mean increased retirement contribution — because he does not want to increase taxes on the wealthy or corporations?

The only working people that have paid a price so far in trying to bring down the deficit have been federal workers…. It is inappropriate to further look to the pockets of federal employees at this point in time,” said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer.

When will the Congressional Republicans stop using the federal employees retirement accounts as their personal piggy banks.  When will they do what is right an start making the corporations pay their fair share?

 

If Congressman Ryan Could Save $161 Billion A Year, Would He? The Answer May Shock You

DSC_9969Tax Credits or Spending? Labels, but in Congress, Fighting Words

The New York Times has a story about Washington lobbyists’ effectiveness in convincing Congress to pass tax breaks that benefit the wealthy.

Just one of those tax breaks – capital gains and dividends – costs an estimated $161 billion a year.  That would pay not just for the Sequester cuts, but also for all the additional cuts that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan wants to make in next year’s federal budget.

No surprise, the top 1% get 75% of the benefit of that particular tax break.  (The bottom 60% of taxpayers get only 1% of the benefit.)

Another way to look at it?  The amount the 1% gets from the unearned income tax break – just in a single year – would pay for 10 years of Paul Ryan’s cuts to Medicare.

Read the story here.  Dig into the graphic here.

If you haven’t already, read Sunday’s post about corporate tax breaks.

Wondering why you should take the time to learn about this?  The next few budget battles are going to come down to questions of revenue versus cuts, and corporate welfare versus Social Security and Medicare.  Basically, it’s going to be a question of whose interests our government will serve:  the people who can afford to hire lobbyists? Or the very tired and distracted middle class?

The House GOP is still marching to the same drummer they have been following since 2001.  Nothing much is going to change in Washington, unless we the people work to change it.

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