We learned with great disappointment that a recent television ad run by unions representing postal employees earned only a Half True rating from PolitiFact. Although it is impossible to condense a complex public policy story into a 30-second ad, we stand by the spot 100 percent.
The ad accurately depicts the main cause of the U.S. Postal Service's financial problems: a provision of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act forces the Postal Service to "pre-fund" health benefits for future retirees. No other government agency or business is forced to bear this burden.
The pre-funding mandate forces the USPS to pay for a 75-year obligation in just 10 years, at a cost of approximately $5.5 billion annually. Absent the pre-funding requirement, the Postal Service would have experienced a cumulative surplus of $611 million over the last four fiscal years for which data is available, despite falling mail volume.
The Postal Service also has overpaid billions of dollars to its retirement accounts.
The USPS has pleaded with Congress to allow it to apply the pension overpayments to its retiree health care obligations. While it is true that U.S. Office of Personnel Management actuaries have questioned the size of the overpayments, OPM's main point of contention is that under current law, it cannot change the formula.
We regret that we could not condense all of this information into our ad, but the ad offers an accurate portrayal of the cause of the USPS financial crisis.
We have not held back any information, as your rating implies, in our campaign to save the Postal Service from financial collapse. We invite you to review the media interviews, news articles and congressional testimony about the USPS financial crisis that we have posted on www.apwu.org.
Sally Davidow, communications director, American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO, Washington, D.C.
Haley needs dose of accountability Oct. 19, editorial
VA delivers quality care to vast majority of patients
This editorial selected one very small and specific problem that could have given readers the idea that the James A. Haley VA Medical Center and the veterans hospital system in general is irresponsible, inept and broke. The opposite is true.
While it would be highly unusual for the hospital to cancel appointments with outside medical consultants due to budget constraints, that may be the case. However, it has been my experience and that of everyone I have talked to that the hospital is 99.99 percent efficient, organized and dependable in its dispensing of medical care to veterans.
Since enrolling for veterans medical care, something I put off for many years, I have been beyond impressed with the level of care, the modern equipment, the efficiency and attitude of staff, and even the quality in the cafeteria food at Haley. I regret not having registered for care there sooner.
As one who is not disposed to taking advantage of entitlements, I can say with all certainty that availing myself to the care at Haley was the best thing I ever did. From free valet parking upon arrival to ensuring that every aspect of each patient's needs is attended to promptly, any visitor would be in awe of the attentiveness the hospital staff shows those who served their country.
If you want to point blame, aim it at the Congress for pouring unlimited funds into wars and going short on the monies that go to assisting those who fought them.
Tony Zappone, Tampa
Obama on road to push job plan | Oct. 18
The other day President Barack Obama gave a speech on jobs. He couldn't call it a campaign event, because if he did he would have to pay for it himself.
In the speech he said Republicans want dirty water and air and don't want Americans to have jobs. Is this really a presidential speech? Is he serious, or is this a traveling comedy act?
Obama said the Republicans don't understand his "jobs" plan. But what we do understand is that giving him another half-trillion dollars to keep government workers employed for another year so the Democratic Party can keep collecting their union dues is not really in this nation's best interests.
Ronnie Dubs, St. Petersburg
Making Florida safe for mental midgets Oct. 18, Daniel Ruth column
Small minds in high places
My only observation is that our state capital is overloaded with "mental midgets" from both political parties. No man, woman or child is safe while the Legislature is in session. Thank God the session lasts only 90 days for these fools to do their evil work.
Jay D. Jennings, Brooksville
Clinton vows support for post-Gadhafi Libya Oct. 19
Government off track
I'm working hard on getting my mind wrapped around these facts: We don't have money for our crumbling infrastructure, jobs, social services, education, and so on, but we have millions for Libya. Libya! Why?
And then there's Florida spending money on laws to keep pants up, dwarves down, and the squashing of love between man and beast. I think our government is so off track we'll never get back.
Robin Sterling, St. Petersburg
My father was administrator of Workmen's Compensation for the Ford Motor Co. many years ago. He went on to serve on a presidential commission to develop compensation law. I remember a conversation we had in which he told me he would much rather hire a history or English major over anyone from a business school, as he knew that man or woman would be able to write, think creatively and have speaking skills.
One wishes his ideas could be encompassed by the strange antieducation group we now have in Tallahassee.
Kathleen A. Carothers, Tarpon Springs