Apr 25, 2012
By Bob Sloan
The Senate today voted to pass a bill to salvage the USPS – for now. Critical to avoiding a proposed shut down of hundreds of postal facilities and centers with the loss of 200,000 jobs, the news was cautiously welcomed by VLTP. While the House has yet to vote on similar legislation, sponsored by Rep. Issa, this is a step in the right direction. A key part of the Senate bill would return $11 billion of the funds the USPS has been forced to set aside (since Congress stipulated that provision in the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act [HR 6407]) for employee retirement and health plans…and reduce the amount of future contributions to that account.
As VLTP has been reporting for nearly a year, our research uncovered an attempt by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to push for privatization of the USPS on behalf of two of their primary members and supporters, UPS and FedEx. Congressional alumni and supporters of ALEC were instrumental in crafting and sponsoring the legislation that forced the USPS to “pay forward” retirement and health benefits covering 75 years…and to be accomplished in just a ten year window. Sponsor of this legislation in the House was former Rep. Tom Davis (R VA). His wife, Jeannemarie Devolites Davis was a Virginia Politician serving as a state Senator and a member of ALEC. Her political campaigns for Virginia‘s Senate was funded by husband Tom Davis and various Republican PACs including the former Majority Leader and ALEC Alumni Tom Delay through his ARMPAC. Rep. Tom Davis received $211,333 during his public service from known ALEC members.
ALEC Alumni, Rep. John McHugh (R NY) first introduced Postal Reform legislation in 1996: (H.R. 3717). Inexplicably – or perhaps due to great framing and a belief that McHugh genuinely wanted to help the USPS – he was heavily supported by USPS workers himself with campaign contributions totaling $272,800 from 5 USPS worker organizations. An additional $61,350 was contributed from UPS and FedEx.
Senate co-Sponsor of the 2006 legislation impacting the USPS was Susan Collins (R ME) who has ties to Koch money and is actively supporting Koch‘s EPA deregulation and environmental denial of climate change. In 2006 Collins received $166,138 in donations from; UPS ($22,168), Verizon, ($15,221), AT&T ($12,000), GlaxoSmithKline ($11,999), MBNA Corporation ($85,250)54 and Blue Cross and Blue Shield ($31,550) – all now known to be members of ALEC. Because of the perception that Collins was working to help the USPS with the 2006 legislation, she received $42,500 in contributions from postal workers. Over her career, Collins has so far received $510,993 from confirmed ALEC members.
Co-sponsor of the legislation to “save” the USPS in 2010 and again here in 2012, is Rep. Joe Lieberman. He received no funding from top ALEC corporate members in 2008 but that’s changed. For 2012 - while not running for re-election – Lieberman received contributions from several corporate PAC’s and Committees who are also ALEC members, including; AT&T, Verizon, FedEx, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Comcast and Koch Industries.
As the Report published by VLTP and linked to above reveals, from the introduction of McHugh’s legislation in 1996 the conservative think tanks associated with ALEC have been publishing articles, statistics and reports calling for the privatization of the USPS, calling their services to the public a “monopoly”. These “reports” and articles from; the Heritage Foundation, CATO, National Taxpayers Union and the Reason Foundation have a commonality beyond ALEC – they are all linked to the Koch brothers by ideology and funding.
Hopefully this background information helps you understand that key politicians involved in working to privatize the USPS has also been working to cause the collapse of the Postal Service. By working both sides of the argument they have/are receiving huge sums of money as campaign contributions – from those supporting the USPS and those opposing them. Additionally, an important aspect of this battle over mail service, is the fact that ALEC has 100 “Alumni” currently sitting in the U.S. Congress.
Under the foregoing circumstances the future of the USPS is in jeopardy to both the public as well as postal workers. With UPS and FedEx seeking access to the first class mail and parcel post contracts worth billions of dollars annually, this battle is not going to simply cease. With the assistance of ALEC, corporate funding, legislative members and alumni the USPS will not be “safe” for years to come…unless postal administrators take notice of the facts before them and work to eliminate ALEC and their influence in Congress. If they don’t, much of their annual income and political efforts going forward will go to trying to forestall ALEC’s continued attempts at privatization.
Today’s news while heartening, is also dismaying as the Republicans are now “kicking the can down the road” much as they accuse President Obama’s administration of doing. To understand the Senate bill and the provisions…
…Read the Christian Science Monitor story related to this news —> here