I am writing this letter to make the public aware of what is going on in the U.S. Postal Service.

Although first-class mail volume is indeed falling, the Internet is not killing the Postal Service, nor is the weak economy. What is killing the Postal Service is a burdensome congressional mandate, a Bush-era law passed in 2006 that requires the USPS to massively prefund the cost of future retiree health benefits over the next 75 years in just 10 years’ time.

This cost covers not only current employees but employees who have yet to be hired — and it is on top of the cost of health benefits for current retirees.

No other company or agency in America is required to prefund future retiree health benefits.

The $20 billion in deficits over the past four years has been the direct result of the $21 billion in prefunding payments dictated by the 2006 law. In absence of this mandate, the USPS would have been profitable over this period despite the worst recession in 80 years, and it would still have borrowing authority to weather the bad economy.

As a matter of fairness, the USPS should be allowed to fund retiree health benefits on a pay-as-you-go basis, just as most businesses do.

There is a sensible solution to the postal financial crisis that won’t directly cost any taxpayer money: The Office of Personnel Management, which administers the federal and postal employee pension plans, should acknowledge the findings of the two external, private-sector audits that found a pension surplus of between $50 billion and $75 billion in the postal portion of the Civil Service Retirement System.

Congress should allow the Postal Service to use this surplus to cover the cost of prefunding future retiree health benefits.

A bill containing such a solution has been introduced as H.R. 1351, which offers a responsible way of dealing with this financial crisis by allowing the Postal Service access to its own money, funds that are in excess of what it will ever need to pay for pensions.

On Sept. 27, “Save America’s Postal Service” rallies will be taking place in every congressional district in the United States.

Please let your congressman know that you want the Postal Service to remain a solid institution. This can be done with passage of H.R.1351.

Mary Wells

letter carrier