(Extensions of Remarks - September 13, 2012)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E1508]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                  HON. HENRY C. ``HANK'' JOHNSON, JR.

                               of georgia

                    in the house of representatives

                      Thursday, September 13, 2012

  Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to urge my 
colleagues to take politics out the Post Office.
  In 2006, Congress passed legislation that forced the United States 
Postal Service to pre-fund 100 percent of retiree health and insurance 
premiums. No other company, public or private, is forced to comply with 
this inherently destructive policy.
  On September 30, of this year, the law requires a payment of $5.6 
billion to fund pension obligations. This will do more than cost the 
USPS precious dollars. It also threatens the very life of the postal 
service and it will cost hard-working postal employees the dignity and 
respect that goes along with a hard day's work.
  Mr. Speaker, House Republicans cited declining physical mail volumes 
and a growing USPS labor force as the primary reasons why the 2006 
legislation was necessary. Yet, 2005, 2006, and 2007 were the highest 
volume years in the USPS's 200 year history. In fact, 2006 was the 
highest volume year ever for the USPS. And how did House Republicans 
expect the Postal Service to deal with the additional 2 million 
addresses being added to their delivery routes each year? By hoping and 
praying that the mail gets delivered?
  Mr. Speaker, the 2006 legislation was solely intended to break the 
back of a public sector union and privatize the mailing industry. Why 
else would Congress alter an entity that hasn't used a dime of tax 
payer's money in 30 years?
  According to the Congressional Research Service, the USPS was self-
supporting since 1971, using revenues from postage sales to fund its 
operating costs. In fact, the Postal Service was so profitable, Mr. 
Speaker, that it returned money to the Treasury every single year while 
providing free services to visually impaired persons and overseas 
voters. If the Postal Service were a private corporation during that 
time, my colleagues across the aisle would have hailed it as the model 
of economic success and sung its praises from sea to shining sea for 
paying dividends to shareholders.
  In the years after Republicans dumped the pre-funding mandate into 
the lap of the USPS, the Postal Service has nearly crumbled under the 
weight of spiking pension costs. Mr. Speaker, how does an organization 
that had robust profits for 30 plus years leading up to the 2006 
legislation suddenly start running deficits and lose $25.4 billion 
between 2007 and 2011? How did the USPS go from no debt in 2006 to over 
$13 billion in debt today?
  The answer is simple--my friends across the aisle wanted to continue 
their assault on public sector unions. They chose to pass a bill they 
knew would cause massive deficits for the USPS. They chose to commit 
the USPS to payments they knew it could not afford. They created this 
problem for the USPS and now they refuse to be part of the solution.
  Mr. Speaker, House Republicans should abide by the phrase ``If it 
ain't broke, don't fix it.''
  Many of my colleagues on the other side have well-connected friends, 
such as the Koch Brothers, who publicly advocate for postal service 
privatization. I am here to connect the dots for the American people. I 
repeat, we must ``take politics out of the post office.''
  Instead of wasting time today, we should vote to stop the damage 
inflicted upon the USPS by this body and remove these absurd 
constraints by passing H.R. 1351, the United States Postal Service 
Pension Obligation Recalculation and Restoration Act. We must protect 
the hard working employees of the Postal Service by passing legislation 
to fix this blunder.
  The USPS was not in danger of becoming insolvent until Congress 
decided to meddle in its affairs.
  Mr. Speaker, the Postal Service already missed a $5.5 billion payment 
in August. This body must act before the Post Office defaults on 
another payment later this month. Instead of scheduling symbolic votes 
that highlight our differences, let's stop the madness and do what is 
best for the American people, the economy, and communities across the 
  Mr. Speaker, it is vital that we keep our Postal Service in good 
financial standing. The Postal Service employs 700,000 of our fellow 
citizens, 17,751 of whom are in the state of Georgia; one third are 
military veterans who deliver 212 billion pieces of mail to over 144 
million locations.
  If big corporations and the Koch Brothers get their wish, the Postal 
Service will slowly be destroyed, causing good jobs to be lost and 
allowing companies to raise prices of delivery.
  The American people deserve a Postal Service reform bill that will 
allow the Post Office to continue its operations and not reduce or 
restructure them.
  Taking action to strengthen the Postal Service's finances is not just 
good for letter carriers and post masters, it is also good for 
business. There is a $1.3 trillion mailing industry in the U.S. that 
supports between 7-8 million private sector jobs that is heavily 
dependent on a healthy and efficient Postal Service.
  The time to act is now.