Congress is about to rob Medicare to 'save' the Postal Service

In the business world, low-performance departments are often audited, reformed, and — if they continue to underperform — eliminated.  It's one of the many ways companies stay competitive — by eliminating dead weight to stay profitable and keep customers happy with high-quality service and competitive prices.

This week, the House is set to do the exact opposite.  In typical "kick the can down the road" action by our elected officials, a bipartisan group of politicians is shifting billions of dollars in retirement costs from the U.S. Postal Service to Medicare.  Supporters celebrate that USPS will remove unaffordable retirement costs from its balance sheet, thus keeping itself solvent.  What they've tried to hide is Congress's sleight of hand, which will accelerate Medicare's projected 2026 bankruptcy.

The Congressional Budget Office's July 2021 report laid out the situation clearly.  In just the first ten years of the shifting of your tax dollars from one account to another — changing nothing but where the money is located — an additional 25% of retired postal workers are required to join Medicare.  That's required, mind you, not requested or given the opportunity to join.  And that means you and I, the people who pay the postal workers' salaries, are going to be even more on the hook for their retirements.

I have nothing against postal workers; they do a job that requires dealing with traffic, cold, rain, and dangerous roads.  I do wish they weren't quite so obvious in their partisan bias, but nobody is really surprised that unions support Democrats.  What I care more about is that Congress's 2022 "solution" to USPS's insolvency is another failed action that will require more action to "fix" what Congress broke this time around.

In politics, everything comes around.  We saw a GOP Congress "fix" the Postal Service's pension problems by requiring costly up-front infusions of cash just as the internet began cutting into the Post Office's business model.  Worse, the Post Office hasn't even followed that law, according to the CBO — it simply didn't make the required pension payments, which has made the pension problem even worse.

Today, Democrats are leading the charge in a "bipartisan" manner, which will give everyone the chance to brag to his constituents that he "saved" the Post Office.  And, sure, all of them did — by throwing Medicare, another boondoggle that congressional "fixes" somehow keep making worse, under the bus.

I recently wrote about why America should end government-run health care in light of the horrendous failure we've seen since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.  From presidents on down to local governments, elected officials and unelected bureaucrats have cracked down on our liberties, ruined our mental and physical health, and spent money we don't have on solutions that don't work.  The 2022 USPS "fix" looks like one of those things that Congress will use to try to fool us again.  Let's nip this one in the bud.

Michael Feuz is a technology consultant by day and a research associate for a small D.C. think-tank by night.  He is pursuing graduate work in economics at George Mason University.  His work has been published by Real Clear Policy, the Washington Examiner, and Inside Sources.

Image: EraserGirl via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0 (cropped).

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