Democratic Senator Plays Expensive Politics with Keystone Pipeline


Today, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) criticized Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) for attempting to use legislation under consideration in the U.S. Senate aimed at enabling the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in order to block the United States Postal Service (USPS) from moving ahead with planned closures of underutilized and redundant postal  facilities.

“Sen. Stabenow’s amendment should be roundly dismissed should it be voted on in the  Senate”

If enacted, Sen. Stabenow’s amendment would prohibit the USPS from enacting scheduled post office closures for another two years, even though USPS officials have stated that the closures are overdue and will save the agency $750 million annually. The USPS claims to have saved $865 million from closing 141 facilities in 2012 and 2013. The USPS posted losses of $5.5 billion in 2014 and has lost money in 21 of the last 23  quarters.

“When it come to the accelerating decomposition of the USPS, there is plenty of blame to go around,” said Tom Schatz. “The postal unions cling to a bloated labor configuration that is inflexible and exorbitantly expensive, while postal officials are constantly looking for new get-rich-quick schemes outside their mission, hoping that some rebranding campaign will suddenly solve all of the agency’s ills. And as members of Congress dither in their responsibility to enact postal reform, they continue to block the USPS from rationalizing its top-heavy workforce and inefficient bricks-and-mortar infrastructure. Sen. Stabenow’s amendment is just another diversionary tactic designed to run away from reality. It seems as if everyone involved is in  denial.”

Sen. Stabenow’s amendment comes on the heels of an August letter to then-Appropriations Committee Chairman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Ranking Member Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) signed by a bipartisan group of 50 senators and 10 House members, demanding a one-year moratorium on  closures.

Congress blocked a USPS plan to close 3,700 post office in 2011, claiming that the agency had failed to perform its due diligence on which facilities to close. The USPS was also prevented from going to a five-day delivery schedule, which would save $2 billion a year, according to USPS officials. In fact, when asked after a National Press Club speech why postal reform has foundered over the last four years, outgoing Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe stated, “What’s holding us up? Myopia. Shortsightedness. That may sound a little harsh, but it would be too easy to say that it’s just congressional gridlock…. As much as we try to have an elevated conversation about the future of the organization, we never get beyond the narrow set of interests that are determined to preserve the status  quo.”

On January 15, 2015, the USPS requested an overall average rate hike of 1.966 percent, as well as rate hikes of almost 10 percent for products they claim are “underwater,” such as first-class mail. USPS stated that the increase will produce $900 million for fiscal year 2015. Meanwhile, the USPS continues to chase revenue in new areas of commerce already well-served by private sector companies, such as grocery delivery. In the District of Columbia, USPS just began a same-day delivery service for some commercial mailers, like Amazon, even though a similar USPS pilot program in San Francisco, California in 2012 with six retail partners failed  miserably.

“Sen. Stabenow’s amendment should be roundly dismissed should it be voted on in the Senate,” concluded  Schatz.

The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste is the lobbying arm of Citizens Against Government Waste, the nation’s largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in  government.

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