WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today welcomed news that the U.S. Postal Service reported an operating profit of $600 million for the 2013 fiscal year.
“Despite all the rhetoric about how the Postal Service is ‘going broke,’ I was very pleased that, during the last 12 months, the United States Postal Service made a profit of $600 million picking up and delivering mail and packages to every community in America. And they did that without receiving one dime from the taxpayers of this country. This is great news for the American people and makes me optimistic that, with modest changes, we can protect the jobs and quality services that the Postal Service is providing today,” Sanders said.
Sanders said the Postal Service balance sheet showed a $5 billion “loss” for the year only because of an unprecedented and onerous requirement imposed by Congress that it pre-fund 75 years of future retiree health benefits in just 10 years. “No other business or government agency is burdened with this mandate,” the senator said of the payments to a fund that already has accumulated more than enough to cover the future health care costs.
Sanders on Feb. 13 introduced legislation, which now has 28 cosponsors, to modernize the Postal Service, save Saturday mail and repeal the crippling law responsible for about 90 percent of the mail system’s funding woes. Similar legislation introduced in the House by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) now has 168 co-sponsors.
“It’s time to end this outrageous pre-funding requirement once and for all. My legislation would also give the Postal Service the tools it needs to succeed in the 21st century by allowing it to offer new products and services on the internet, ship wine and beer, and issue hunting and fishing licenses,” Sanders said.
The legislation by Sanders and DeFazio also would let the Postal Service look for innovative ways to attract more customers by taking advantage of email and Internet services, for example. A commission made up of successful business innovators, small business and labor leaders would make additional recommendations on ways the Postal Service could generate new revenue. The bill also would prevent shutdowns of mail sorting centers and safeguards would be put in place to protect rural post offices.
“Importantly, my legislation ensures the speedy and timely delivery of mail by requiring the Postal Service to keep delivering the mail six days a week and re-instates strong overnight delivery standards for first class mail. The way to save the Postal Service is not to dismantle it piece by piece, but to allow it to generate more revenue by offering new and innovative products and services that the American people want,” Sanders said.