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Federal Employees News Digest : June 10, 2013
Phil Piemonte, Managing Editor E-mail: email@example.com What's Inside44 JUNE 10, 2013 • VOL. 62, NO. 45 Battle continues against USPS prefunding requirement Postal employee organizations have pushed back in recent weeks against U.S. Postal Service downsizing efforts---and continued to urge Congress to repeal a 2006 law that forces USPS to pay bil- lions of dollars to prefund retiree health benefits. The Postal Service in recent years in fact already has slimmed down significantly, scaling back its workforce to under 500,000 employees---fewer people than it had in 1966---and closing numerous mail process- ing and other facilities. But any gains from certain improving lines of business have been offset by pay- ments into the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund (PSRHB). For the second fiscal quarter of 2013, for example, despite revenue growth and cuts to expenses, USPS posted a loss of $1.9 billion---the vast major- ity of it due to the prefunding law. The law requires USPS to prefund the entire burden of its retiree health benefits for the next 75 years in huge $5 billion-per-year increments---over a mere 10 years' time. Since its inception, the requirement has proven to be not only expensive, but eco- nomically deadly. Postal employee organiza- tions---and now the Postal Service---have tried and failed repeatedly to get the law rolled back. "The highest priority for us is to get rid of the prefunding requirement," said Sally Davidow, communications director for the American Postal Workers Union, one of the unions ramping up pressure on the issue. "Our next priority is to get [overpayments into retirement systems] refunded to the Postal Service. "The Postal Service needs both---for breathing room---so it can modernize in an appropriate way, and not have to take a hatchet where a scalpel is needed," she told FEND. Fund off-limits---to USPS, anyway APWU last week pointed out with irony that while the Postal Service can't touch the PSRHB fund for emergency borrowing--- which the union says is needed to modern- ize further, and to create sustainable efficien- cies---the rest of the federal government can borrow from it, at least during the current pinch. In May, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced plans to borrow money from federal employee retirement funds, as well as the PSRHB, to head off defaulting on the national debt. "We are outraged that the federal govern- ment is borrowing money from this fund," APWU's Davidow told FEND. "[Congress] told us, 'Oh, no---that money has to be there---this is necessary for the health ben- efits retirement fund.' So, the Postal Service can't borrow anything from it---but the fed- eral government can do what it wants with it. What an outrage, really." "We don't doubt that they are going to pay it back. They've borrowed from federal pen- sion funds before---though we don't think they have done so from this fund, which has only been around since 2007," Davidow said. "But, the point is, we've been telling [Congress] that this requirement was going to kill the Postal Service. We asked them to Party politics This time next year (like it or not) the country, at least the politicians and the media part of the country, will be hip- deep in the 2014 mid- term elections. That also means hip-deep in ... never mind. By this date in 2014 we'll be just four months out from the second and final midterm of the Obama administration. Many people think the second term is the hardest (for almost any president) and that the last two years can make or break your place in history. It will be make or break for both the White House and Congress. So how is it going to go? What's going to happen? What will be the issues du jour this time next year? Put on your for- tuneteller outfit, go find that crystal ball and dust off the Ouija board in the attic. Which, if any, of the current "scan- dals" that are now Page 1 news will still be with us 12 months from today? Your choices: State Department. Who knew what and when about the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi on U.S. diplomatic per- sonnel that killed four people, including the American ambassador? Will likely Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton still be in the spotlight? Justice Department. Will it be DOJ seizing the phone records of a number of Associated Press reporters and tailing at INSIGHT BY MIKE CAUSEY continued on page 2 For more news...see Federal Daily at www.FederalDaily.com • Think tanks urge cuts 3 • White House wants salary caps 5 • In Brief 5 • Informed Investor 7 • Federal Benefits Q&A 8 continued on page 3
June 3, 2013
June 17, 2013