Ohioans and their elected representatives in Washington are turning to new challenges for the new year. With a Republican majority in both chambers of Congress, leaders will undoubtedly focus on shaping and crafting a government that reflects the principles of fiscal responsibility, liberty, and free enterprise.
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Sadly, several institutions in our country have strayed from these principles and are suffering as a result. One agency that typifies this unfortunate state of affairs is the U.S. Postal Service. The organization, whose mission is to deliver letters to citizens anywhere in the country at a reasonable rate, has, in efforts to sustain itself, created new and expanded services that are doing more harm than good.
Examples include overextending itself to deliver packages 7 days a week. Next on the Postal Service’s list are potential forays into payday lending and warehousing services. As varied as these new services may be they all share the practice of adding high costs to the agency without proven benefits to compensate for the costs.
The financial stability of the Postal Service’s operations is of particular concern, given the agency’s drastic losses. In fact, the Postal Service has lost $30.5 billion since 2011, and it has defaulted yet again on its $5.7 billion retiree health benefits payment. It also reached its $15 billion credit limit with the U.S. Treasury in 2012.
With a deteriorating fiscal situation, there is rightfully significant concern about the Postal Service’s ability to fulfill what it was originally meant to do. Individuals throughout Ohio, and also across the country, depend on effective and reliable first class mail, and it doesn’t make sense to endanger that vital function by focusing on so many other areas.
In light of all that has happened, it is crucial to chart a new and sustainable course for the agency. Fortunately, with promising new leaders of the Postal Service in place, there is the chance to make this a reality. Ohio’s own, Reps. Mike Turner and Jim Jordan, who serve on the House Oversight Committee, which oversees the Postal Service, must also take an active role in advancing structural reforms for the agency.
Speaker John Boehner must also recognize that any larger effort in Congress to make government more efficient needs to include a close review of the Postal Service, and leadership to advance the best solutions for preserving it.
Ultimately, the Postal Service needs to address its growing debt and ensure that the core services that we all depend on are maintained. Let’s ask our leaders to take on this challenge and keep the Postal Service focused on mail delivery and being more accountable overall.
Kate Burch is Chair of the Political Education/Legislative Committee for the Ohio Federation of Republican Women. She lives in Oakwood.
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