House GOP Budget Would Cut Compensation for Postal Workers

A postal worker delivers mail in Atlanta in 2013. A postal worker delivers mail in Atlanta in 2013. David Goldman/AP

The House Republican budget considered in committee Wednesday would require U.S. Postal Service employees to pay more for health care, using that reform and others to save $19 billion over 10 years.

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., targeted USPS employees in his budget blueprint as part of a larger effort to find cuts through the federal workforce. Ryan’s plan would also impose pension contribution hikes on all federal employees and reduce the size of the workforce through attrition measures.

Ryan pointed to the Postal Service’s large unfunded liabilities and continued losses to justify the need for reductions at the agency.

“The United States Postal Service is unable to meet its financial obligations and is in desperate need of structural reforms,” Ryan wrote in the budget.

The House Budget Committee chairman recommended giving USPS “the flexibility that any business needs to respond to changing market conditions,” and said the agency must reform compensation for its employees, who pay a smaller share of the costs of their health and life insurance premiums than other federal workers.

The American Postal Workers Union rejected Ryan’s proposals, noting USPS is not funded by taxpayers and therefore the cuts would not lead to deficit reduction.

Ryan’s postal provisions are a “thinly-veiled attempt to plunder the Postal Service -- to slash service, cut workers’ benefits and render our great national treasure ripe for privatization,”  APWU President Mark Dimondstein said.

The Postal Service was not the only agency Ryan singled out for cuts. The former Republican vice presidential candidate called the Internal Revenue Service bloated and proposed a simplified tax code, thereby “naturally reducing the agency’s size by promoting policies that lead to less reliance on the IRS.” He also said the Securities and Exchange Commission should not have nearly 4,000 employees, and the agency should “streamline and make more efficient its operations and resources.”

Ryan’s budget would place new caps on non-Defense discretionary spending, slashing agency expenditures beyond the levels set by sequestration. Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell said the resulting cuts could, for example, reduce the number of Customs and Border Protection agents, federal prison guards and other law enforcement officials by several thousand. 

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