Last week, the U.S. Postal Service filed a plan with its regulator to close half of its mail processing facilities and reduce delivery standards in order to reduce costs. I called the move a message to Congress because “the USPS is running on financial fumes and Congress is still trying to figure out how to kick the can down the road.”
The Indianapolis Star recently profiled local boy makes good (handing out other people’s money) John Fernandez, the ex-Bloomington mayor and Obama fundraiser who now heads up the Economic Development Administration. A reference to an EDA taxpayer handout to a technology park in southern Indiana caught my eye:
On Monday, the U.S. Postal Service filed its proposal to reduce service standards with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). The USPS is seeking to cut costs by closing about half of its mail processing facilities, which would mean slower mail delivery. Given that the USPS is running on financial fumes and Congress is still trying to figure out how to kick the can down the road, management apparently decided that it had to act.
The House passed a bill last week eliminating the Presidential Election Campaign Fund, which the Tax Foundation calls a “voluntary tax that stirs little enthusiasm.” It would also save a whopping $14 million by eliminating the Election Action Committee and transferring certain functions to other federal agencies.
A new poll conducted for The Hill found that 67 percent of likely voters think members of Congress should take a pay cut. With the economy still struggling and the government's debt continuing to mount, congressional pay is – understandably – a sore subject with voters. However, I get the impression that a lot of people think that cutting Congress’s budget would have a sizable impact on the government’s financial situation.
Three weeks ago, a national commotion erupted when the Drudge Report headlined a story from the Heritage Foundation on the Obama administration’s implementation of a new tax on Christmas trees. I noted here that the 1996 legislation enabling the U.S. Department of Agriculture to implement the tax received most of its support from Republicans, including co-sponsor John Boehner.
The USPS is supposed to operate like a business by relying on the revenues from the sale of postal products to cover costs. Congress makes that harder by imposing various obligations and stifling attempts to reduce costs. Add in a weak economy, the growth in alternative forms of communication, and a predominantly unionized workforce that has secured excessive compensation and privileges and the result is a financial mess.
The Constitution already places strict limits on what the federal government can and cannot do. The problem is that those limits have become stretched over the years to the point that the federal government can do pretty much what it pleases. As a result, Americans have become accustomed to, and dependent upon, the federal government to supervise their lives from cradle to grave.
After three years and $4 trillion in combined deficit spending, unemployment remains stubbornly high and the economy sluggish. That people are still asking what the government can do to stimulate the economy is mind-boggling.
I am debating the need for more government spending to goose the economy and create jobs over at PolicyMic.com. I argue that we’ve had enough government “stimulation” (see here). My opponent argues that the federal government hasn’t spent enough money (see here). Readers will decide the “winner” and can add their own two cents.