- The Washington Times - Friday, April 1, 2011

In The Washington Times on March 28, Ryan Cole characterized the Postal Service’s $75 billion retiree benefits overpayment as “USPS taxpayer-subsidized CPR” while invoking the name of Lysander Spooner, a 19th-century postal entrepreneur. Moving forward from 19th-century postal history through the 20th century and into the early 21st century, today’s Postal Service is subject to annual and pre-funding benefit payments of $11 billion a year.

Addressing the Postal Service’s benefit-fund issues is not taxpayer subsidized CPR but correction of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s long history of miscalculations, which includes the $75 billion overcharge for the Postal Service’s Civil Service Retirement System pension payments. In essence, for 40 years, the Postal Service paid its and the federal government’s inflationary costs.

The Postal Service’s benefit funds are funded entirely by postal employees and the sale of postage. If benefit-fund overpayments were returned, the money would not be used for Postal Service operations. The surplus would be used to make annual benefit payments. Using employee money for postal operations would be as wrong as putting it in the federal employee benefit fund; both would be improper.

This is not a bailout. The Postal Service was overcharged and subsequently overpaid into benefit funds. In the United States, there is the rule of law, and the accounts must be settled. This issue is fundamentally about righting an inequity.

The vision of a financially healthy Postal Service subject to efficient market forces cannot be realized if the Postal Service continues to be subject to annual payments of $11 billion a year before it enters the marketplace. Even the entrepreneurial spirit of Lysander Spooner would be hard put if $11 billion a year were taken from him before he could open the doors of his new business.

DAVID C. WILLIAMS

U.S. Postal Service inspector general

Arlington