Darth Vader: Good, good. Our plan is going according to schedule. The Emperor will be pleased.
(Note: Darrell Issa does cry and it comes in at the 1:20 mark. He pulled a John Boehner in the 2003 California Gubernatorial Race!)
It seems to me not everyone on Daily Kos is in sync with the whole Saturday mail delivery ending. On the one hand, the U.S. Postal Service can't compete with other services such as DHL, Federal Express or UPS. On the other hand, there are people working at the postal service who will either lose part of their pay or their jobs all together.
Who do we blame for this?
Rep. Darrell Issa would be one to start pointing the fingers at. Running the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, he's certainly one who likes to think he's working in a bipartisan fashion. He's developed strong relationships with DC officials and DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and he's certainly tried to forge a more bipartisan working relationship.
But not with the U.S. Postal Service. Well, at least Issa has tried and he appeared to have worked with Democratic U.S. Senator Tom Carper from Delaware:
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), who has worked for years on postal issues and is now chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said last week that he wants “to have a good dialogue with the House” and his panel’s new ranking Republican, Sen. Tom Coburn (Okla.).So we've got Senator Carper on the pro-Postal Service side.
“Make sure we’re on at least the same planet,” Carper told The Hill. “Maybe not exactly the same wavelength.”
Carper and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, also released a joint statement early this year vowing to continue to work together, without laying out a timetable for when postal legislation could get done.
“I like the idea of working with the House,” Carper, who himself served five terms in the House in the 1980s and 1990s, said this week. “Some people think: They’re on the other side of the world. We won’t talk to them.”
"I like to talk to them," Carper said.
Indeed, Darrell Issa has worked to reform the U.S. Postal Service and has proposed legislation that would "do" just that:
And USPS, while urging Congress to pass legislation, has streamlined where it could, unveiling plans last year to shorten hours at hundreds of local post offices and consolidating mail processing centers.However, what exactly is this U.S. Postal Service Bill that Congressman Issa proposed? Here's what the official Saving the Postal Service website (run by the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee) has to say:
A GOP aide at the House Oversight panel told The Hill that those policy changes and other factors would likely be reflected in new legislation from Issa.
House GOP leaders declined to bring the bill Issa championed in the last Congress to the floor, at least in part to shield members from having to take a tough vote and even though the Oversight panel passed it in 2011. That measure was broadly opposed by Democrats, including the panel’s ranking member, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.).
H.R. 2309, the Issa-Ross Postal Reform Act, is the only legislation that saves the Postal Service from financial collapse. H.R. 2309 will:
•Mandate USPS cut costs in line with declining revenue, and give USPS the freedom to do it
•Direct USPS through a comprehensive, nonpolitical realignment of its costly excess infrastructure, making sure it’s fair to small and rural post offices
•Eliminate costly regulations and end Congressional micromanaging
•Ensure taxpayers won't be left holding the bill if USPS leadership fails
•Help USPS cut costs and structure payments, while not letting USPS default on any of its obligations
Here's the link to the actual bill, H.R. 2309, the Issa-Ross Postal Reform Act:
However, it appears that the U.S. Postal Service group, the National Association of Letter Carriers, is not too happy with Darrell Issa's Postal Service efforts and legislation considering they originally supported Issa in his 2010 re-election campaign:
The fate of the U.S. Postal Service, now $9.2 billion in debt, lies with a handful of lawmakers its workers' unions hope will enact the serious reform needed to save the federal agency.Congressman Issa is a very cunning "Congressman," isn't he? There's more.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the committee that oversees the Postal Service, was once one of those lawmakers. But now, after pushing his Postal Reform Act through a House subcommittee, postal unions consider Issa their greatest foe.
Back during the 2010 election cycle, Issa, considered a talented Republican lawmaker, and as the ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, he promised postal unions he would work on their behalf. These unions responded by contributing $41,000 to his re-election campaign, according to research by the Center for Responsive Politics.
That sum ranked Issa as the No. 10 beneficiary of postal union money that cycle among House members, according to the Center's research. So far this year, however, Issa has collected just $2,000 from postal union PACs.
The relationship between Issa and the postal unions demonstrates a basic truth about campaign contributions as strategic investments in candidates: Though money's influence is considerable, it is still only one aspect, of many, that is considered when making a decision -- and it might not be the one given the most weight.
The effects of a decision on the lawmaker's constituency, career advancement and public image, to name a few, can override concerns over loyalty or fund-raising.
"We supported Issa pretty early on last cycle, and that was a direct result of him reaching out and working with us," Jennifer Warburton, director of legislative and political affairs for the National Association of Letter Carriers, told OpenSecrets Blog. "He said there had to be a way to reform the Postal Service to keep the dignity of postal workers intact."
So it's a strategic investment for Darrell Issa in his re-election campaign back in 2010. It gets worse:Yeah, Darrell Issa certainly cares about the U.S. Postal Service. Perhaps he's pulling a Mitt Romney in that he's pro-union during his 2010 re-election campaign but then was anti-union. Maybe it was just about the contributions to his campaign after all.
Then, in the fall before 2010 election, as the USPS and postal unions negotiated labor contracts, Issa's penned an op-ed for the Washington Times calling on Congress to reject the agency's requests to extend the deadline for the payment of future health care benefits. Issa argued that the USPS's declining revenues and the postal unions' no-layoff labor contracts meant Congress needed to intervene.
After the election, Issa was promoted to chairman of the committee, the chief arbiter of the USPS's fate. In June, Issa introduced the Postal Reform Act of 2011, which would create an independent commission to run the USPS and enact $10.7 billion in austerity measures -- such as ending Saturday delivery, closing post offices and laying off workers.
The bill, in other words, would move "the Postal Service's costs in-line with its revenues to create a financially viable and self-sustaining Postal Service," according to a press release from the Issa's committee.
The postal unions balked, seeing it as a "union-buster" bill that would "destroy the Postal Service." And most postal unions have since cemented negative opinions on Issa, said Mark Strong, president of the League of Postmasters.
"We had thought he was going to be a strong leader in the House, and we were hoping that we'd be able to work together," Strong told OpenSecrets Blog. "It's quite evident that won't happen, and he won't be getting our support in the future."
Strong's group made its final donation, of $1,000, to Issa in February, just after Issa became chair of the House Oversight committee -- but before he proposed his postal reform bill.
"That will be the last donation [Issa] receives from this organization while I'm president," Strong added.
Here's Mr. Issa at the Heritage Foundation speaking on the Postal Service Issue:
Here's Mr. Issa on Fox News:
More on the issue:
Instead, postal groups such as Strong's have backed Lynch's bill, H.R. 1351, which focused on restructuring how the agency pays its employees' healthcare and retirement benefits. But that bill has yet to make it out of committee. Meanwhile, Issa's is now one step from the House floor.So basically, being the richest man in Congress, Darrell Issa's wealth is dictating how he should behave in Congress and towards the U.S. Postal Service and the National Association of Letter Carriers. Oh heaven help us!
There are several possible explanations for Issa's turnaround with the Postal Service.
First, when a Congressman moves up in a committee as Issa did, he or she typically aligns their views and decisions with their party, said Gary Jacobson, professor of political science at UC San Diego, in Issa's home district -- an area which typically favors Republicans.
"Looking at the big deficit in the post office and suddenly your committee is responsible for it, you have to do something about that," Jacobson told OpenSecrets Blog. "It wasn’t an issue until people got really excited about deficits and started to worry. And before, he wasn't in a position where he had to respond -- now he has to."
Jacobson also offered another explanation for Issa's about-face on postal unions: his vast personal wealth.
Issa is one of the wealthiest members of Congress, worth between $300 million and $450 million, according to research by the Center for Responsive Politics.
This personal fortune -- $11 million of which Issa has tapped for his congressional campaigns -- means Issa need not worry too much about catering to his contributors.
"Personal wealth frees you up from the burden of fund-raising and the obligations that go along with that," Jacobson told OpenSecrets Blog. "He's got abundant funds of his own, so he's free to follow any kind of ideological notion he wants."
Issa's congressional office did not respond to repeated requests by OpenSecrets Blog for comment for this story.
I don't these these guys are too happy, are they?
So what do we do now?
Well, there are some people who have taken a stand on this issue:
As mentioned before, Senator Tom Harper has been a vocal advocate over REALLY strengthening the U.S. Postal Service:
Then there's Jerry Tetalman, the Democratic candidate who ran in California's 49th Congressional District in 2012 against Darrell Issa. Here he speaks in front of Issa's Vista, CA office with local Postal Service Union reps and Postal Workers, as well as with Postal Employee Union APWU in San Diego, CA:
And of course, there's good old Ed Schultz. No one seems to put the U.S. Postal Service in more attention on the news as Schultz:
Where do we go from here? Phone bomb the GOP in Congress? Defeat Rep. Darrell Issa for re-election? Mount a protest in D.C. to demand action?
It might be good to focus on defeating Darrell Issa for re-election. I'm sure Tom Carper could use the support but Darrell Issa will still be there to screw things up so maybe it's time we start giving Issa some love.
Contact the San Diego County Democratic Party (being chaired by Francine Busby, the original Democratic candidate who ran against Brian Bilbray more than once before he finally got defeated for re-election by now-Democratic Congressman Scott Peters)
8340 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92111
Phone: (858) 277-3367
Fax: (858) 571-0275
And of course, pin down the DCCC so they can contribute to the eventual challenger (or their own selected challenger) to Darrell Issa in California's 49th Congressional District. Come on. Surely we can't be afraid of conservatives in the 49th Congressional Districts like black widow spiders!
I mean, even Kramer and Newman had great fondness for the Postal Service: