Once again, Representative Rehberg is pretending to stand with ordinary Montanans despite a record that opposes their interests. This time? Post office closures in the state.
Rehberg claims to support rural post offices:
I have said it before and I’ll say it again – the issue of postal reform is about much more than numbers on a ledger, and rural states like Montana should not be asked to shoulder more than our fair share of sacrifice. I am extremely concerned that the proposed closure of over 90 offices in the state unfairly impacts rural residents. The distance between our towns and cities, the unpredictable nature of our weather, and the needs of our businesses and senior citizens to receive both packages and medication in a timely manner all factor into why a town’s local post office serves as a vital link to the rest of the state and the country.
What Rehberg doesn’t tell his constituents is that he helped create the problem, back in 2006, when the Republican-controlled Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, which placed the Post Office in the almost impossible position of having to fund future health care benefit payments to retirees for the next 75 years—in 10 years’ time.
As former Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter notes, the act has turned the USPS from an institution that would have been moderately profitable to one hemorrhaging losses:
If the U.S. Postal Service were not required to do that, they would have made a modest profit over the past four years, despite the recession and other challenges. But because of this unreasonable law, the profits have been eaten up, and the Postal Service management has been hacking away at our postal system to save money. They need to remember that there is a $1.3 trillion mailing industry that supports around 8 million private-sector jobs and relies on a great postal service.
It’s even worse. Representative Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts has introduced a bill that would address the flaws of the 2006 law—and it has 226 co-sponsors. Not on that list? Representative Rehberg, who’d rather politicize the issue than solve it.
Rehberg and his Republican allies wanted to manufacture this crisis, because they oppose the union workforce at the Post Office and hope to be able to privative its operations. Of course, no one imagines that a privatized postal services would serve half the Montana communities currently served by the Post Office, but that certainly hasn’t stopped the Republican agenda.
Saving daily delivery and local post offices is going to take much more than rhetoric; it’s going to take legislation. It’s time for Representative Rehberg to stop talking and start delivering.