Postal Service may default on a $5.5 billion trust fund payment

Tuesday, September 6, 2011
By Paul Martin

By Paul Courson
September 5, 2011

Washington (CNN) — The U.S. Postal Service does not have the money to meet an obligation to a retiree health care trust fund coming due at the end of the month, but if there’s a default, officials promise no interruption in the mail, the payroll, or payments to suppliers.
Commenting in response to a New York Times article Monday suggesting the Postal Service may have to shut down within months, spokeswoman Yvonne Yoerger told CNN there’s “nothing actually new in the Postal Service’s position.”

“We are required to make this $5.5 billion dollar payment into the future retiree health benefits fund, and probably won’t be able to make it when it comes due September 30th.”
The fund was mandated by a 2006 postal reform act that postal officials today believe does not match the reality of declining revenues and a smaller workforce. Tuesday, congressional lawmakers will address the matter in a hearing on postal operations.
Yoerger said at that hearing, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe will insist that the fund be re-scaled from the days when there were 900,000 people on the payroll. The mandated funding level has not changed in the years since then, although the Postal Service has trimmed 250,000 jobs.

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