The U.S. Postal System Crisis: Product of Conservative “Reform”

September 27, 2011  |   Politics and Policy

The U.S. Postal System Crisis: Product of Conservative “Reform”

Today, the postal unions representing America's postal workers is organizing a nationwide "Day of Action" to save the US Postal Service (USPS). National news media have reported extensively on the budget crisis facing the USPS, but has done a typically abysmal job of explaining why the crisis exists. These are the facts... Republicans, with the support of the Postmaster, are demanding service cuts and layoffs due to the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) inability to fund $5.5 billion due on September 30 to its federal retiree health fund. The expected 100,000 layoffs, in addition to exacerbating an already grim unemployment picture in the U.S., will hit African-Americans and veterans particularly hard – two groups that already have much higher unemployment rates than the national average. But apart from the employment issue, we need to be asking why the USPS is in such dire straits in the first place. The biggest budget problem by far facing the USPS is the mandate placed on it by an outgoing Republican congress in 2006, requiring USPS to pre-fund, over a decade, its employee pensions for 75 years. The USPS is among a handful of employers still offering a defined benefit pension plan that provides real security to retirees after a lifetime of work. The pre-funding requirement, never asked for by the postal unions, was and remains a poison pill for a federally run postal delivery service. No other pension plan, either public or private, is required to pre-fund pension obligations for 75 years into the

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Immigration Reform Can Help Future Solvency of Social Security

August 17, 2010  |   Economics & Trade Paul Crist Politics and Policy

By Paul Crist, August 10, 2010 The bad news is that the fundamental problem faced by Social Security and Medicare in future years is that the decades-long trend of fewer workers supporting increasing numbers of beneficiaries will become critical, potentially threatening the solvency of the system unless some changes are made. The good news is that there is a simple solution to the worker shortfall.  The bad news is that political posturing, racism and hyper-nationalism is preventing us from adopting that very simple solution. These programs, despite what we hear about the “Social Security Trust Fund” operate on a pay-as-you-go basis.  The “trust fund,”  while real in certain respects, is more of an accounting figure, based on the excess paid-in contributions from workers and employers to the system that are not required to fund current benefit payments to retirees, survivors, the disabled, and administrative expenses.  The current excess funds are invested in special, non-negotiable government securities held by the trust fund.  If the fund begins to run a deficit, where benefits paid out exceed contributions from workers and employers, the Social Security Administration can redeem the securities to cover the deficit. At the end of 2008, the trust fund held $2.4 trillion in accumulated government securities.  According to projections, the trust fund will continue to accumulate surplus funds until 2017, when benefits paid out will begin to exceed revenue paid in. That in itself is not an immediate or grave problem, given the large accumulated surplus.  But it does present

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Retiring in Mexico: Opportunity and challenge for Policymakers

October 7, 2009  |   Healthcare Issues

The Trend toward Retiring in Mexico: Opportunity and Challenge for Policymakers By Paul Crist, President, Americans for Medicare in Mexico, A.C. U.S. Retirees are choosing Mexico in ever-larger numbers In the past decade or so, Mexico has become an increasingly attractive destination for U.S. seniors considering retirement options. That trend is certain to continue, and grow, in the coming years and decades, as the Baby Boom generation reaches retirement age. There are a number of important factors that contribute to this trend. First, Mexico has become the number one tourist destination outside of the U.S. for American travelers. As an increasing number of Americans are of Mexican heritage with familial and cultural ties to Mexico, and as the number of U.S. retirees increases (and thus increases the time they have for travel), Mexico is set to become an ever more popular tourism and retirement destination in the coming years. Retirees that choose to reside in Mexico, whether of Mexican or other heritage, nearly always have visited Mexico numerous times as tourists. They know Mexico, and know that negative U.S. media coverage about Mexico is often slanted, sensational, and fails to recognize the size and diversity of Mexico. The firsthand knowledge of tourists eliminates the fear of living in Mexico. For example, they are more likely than Americans who have never visited Mexico to know that “violence in Mexico” is really just about a 35 to 50-mile region along the U.S. border. They know that Mexico is blessed with great natural

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