In a letter released today, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., takes aim at a union’s claim that the U.S. Postal Service gets no taxpayer support.
Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, concedes that the Postal Service no longer receives a direct government operating subsidy, but cites a 2007 report that the agency benefits from many “implicit subsidies” and “extra powers” worth several hundred millions of dollars a year. Those include federal, state and local income tax exemptions, Issa wrote, as well as the ability to borrow from the federal treasury at low interest rates.
The letter, dated Monday, is addressed to American Postal Workers Union President Cliff Guffey. That was the same day the APWU began airing an ad on national TV cable channels asserting that its members’ work is “funded by solely by stamps and postage.”
As anyone following USPS issues knows, Issa and Guffey haven’t exactly been best buds of late, given that they have starkly different ideas about what’s needed to cure the Postal Service’s ills. Issa acknowledges those differences in his letter, but adds that “we must be clear about the underlying facts.
“I ask you not to engage in a campaign to mislead the American people.”
In an email, APWU spokeswoman Sally Davidow said the ad is accurate and “is intended to dispel the myth that the Postal Service is funded by tax dollars.”
The Federal Trade Commission report cited by Issa lists not only implicit subsidies for the Postal Service, but also added burdens, Davidow said, and concludes that the burdens exceed the subsidies. The union plans to formally respond to Issa in writing.