Oversight committee touts Postal Service reform plan in new Web video

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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The House oversight committee is out with a new animated Web video Wednesday morning warning of the possibility of a taxpayer bailout of the United States Postal Service if its financial troubles are not relieved.

The video is part of an attempt to rally support for a reform plan introduced by Reps. Darrell Issa and Dennis Ross.

The video, entitled “Postal Crisis 101: The Postal Bailout,” focuses on benefits for retired postal workers, which are required, but which the Postal Service is unable to pay, having projected a $10 billion loss for fiscal year 2011.

The video shows a graphic in which money flows from the Postal Service, to the U.S. Treasury, to USPS retirees.

“Today, the Postal Service almost can’t pay its bills,” says the narrator, as an image of a group of taxpayers pops up, and money flows from them into the treasury. “When the Postal Service stops paying, retired postal workers still get benefits. The law says someone has to pay. The question is, who? The answer is you. And that’s a bailout.”

“Opponents of postal reform want to cover this up with a fake accounting gimmick,” says the narrator.

The term refers to the disputed claim that USPS’ financial troubles stem from being unable to access the surplus of money that it paid into its Civil Service Retirement System account, a surplus which has been calculated to be $75 billion. USPS has repeatedly asked for access to this money, which would require permission from the Office of Personnel Management, Congress, or the White House. Issa has repeatedly said that giving USPS access to that money is not an adequate solution because it does not deal with the underlying problems that USPS faces as a business: namely, declining mail volume, and an “outdated business model.”

“They call this an overpayment,” continues the narrator. “If it looks like you’re still paying, you are: taxpayer money, to a failing business. That’s a bailout, and we’ve tried that before.”

The video touts the Issa-Ross Postal Reform Bill of 2011, which will be considered Thursday at a business meeting of the Oversight Committee. The plan outlines a reforms that they say “will remove road blocks that have prevented the Postal Service from reducing expenses in line with declining revenue, and implement cost-cutting structural reforms, ensuring the Postal Service meets its obligations without exposing taxpayers to a multi-billion taxpayer funded bailout.”

Senator John McCain introduced companion legislation in the Senate.