Fix post office problems, Tester urges

Havre Daily News

by Zach White

Though in town to learn more about and show support for the YouthBuild program at Montana State University-Northern on Monday, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., took some time to talk about the issues in Washington he has been grappling with recently.

When asked about the U. S. Postal Service and its plan to shut down more than 3,600 post offices across the country, including 85 in Montana and nearly a dozen on the Hi-Line, Tester reiterated his point that big changes need to be made to ensure that this service, vital to so many Montanans, remains sustainable.

The methods that are being pursued to that goal by Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe are anything but sustainable, Tester said.

“There are a number of things that are relics of the past that the post office is fighting, ” Tester said.

“The bottom line is we need to fix it. ”

While on the topic of fixing things, Tester spoke a bit about measures he thinks need to be taken to get the economy on the right track and recovering more solidly than it has so far.

“We still haven’t fully come out of the recession yet, ” Tester said. “It’s going to require some investments, I think in infrastructure primarily, but also education, research and development to help move the economy forward. ”

He also spoke of the necessity of Pell grants for those goals.

“It’s very important we keep Pell grant funding up and the number available up because there are a lot of poor kids who are really smart and can’t go to school without Pell grants, ” Tester said.

The senator also acknowledged the necessity for cuts to the budget to bring national debt and deficit down, though he insisted everything needs to be considered.

“It’s going to be difficult to do, ” Tester said. “Tough decisions have to be made, but as long as we keep pushing the deficit issue down the road, they will be more and more difficult to make and the problems aren’t going to go away.

“If everything is not on the table, it’s not going to get solved. ”

Aside from the difficulty of impending domestic policy, Tester also addressed the recent announcement that U. S. troops will be home from Iraq by the end of the year, a measure that Tester said he has been advocating.

“The troops have done a great job over there, and now it’s time to turn the country back over to the Iraqi people and let them move forward, ” Tester said. “Hopefully it will be as a stabilizing force in that part of the world that is very unstable. But I think we’ve done everything we can possibly do to give them the tools they need to be successful, and our military has done that in a professional way. So I’m happy about the decision to bring the troops home by the end of the year. ”