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Postal Reform Groundhog Day and Why Section 301 is Unacceptable

Kurt Ruppel

It seems like we’ve been here before. The need for comprehensive postal reform is urgent. The leaders of the postal oversight committees in Congress are saying all the right things about wanting to provide financial stability for the Postal Service. But will anything substantial pass Congress this year?

The one difference is that the stakes are higher this year. Postal Service management and the Board of Governors have become so desperate they’re risking the future of the printing and mailing industry by temporarily augmenting cash flow with an exigent rate increase. This will only drive additional volume out of the mailstream.

It’s Time for Congress to Act

If we are going to move the conversation away from exigent rate increases and shrinking mail volumes, what the Postal Service really needs is a little support from Capitol Hill. It’s long past time to put the partisan bickering aside and focus on the changes needed to ensure a secure financial future for the agency. The USPS’ needs haven’t changed since we wrote last summer about what we would like to see in a reform bill.

IWCO Direct has long been a strong advocate for reform legislation that will provide a secure financial future for the U.S. Postal Service and the printing and mailing industry that depends on it. But we are deeply concerned by some of the measures now being considered in Congress.

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs is scheduled to make another attempt to mark up its most recent postal reform bill next week. Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) and Ranking Member Tom Coburn (R-OK) are planning to move forward with changes to the Postal Reform Act of 2013 (S. 1486). Although S. 1486 is a measure that has the potential to provide needed reform, there are portions of this legislation that are unacceptable in their current form.

In particular, Section 301 (as outlined in the proposal) would be devastating to the printing and mailing industry. This section would make the 4.3% exigent rate increase being implemented this month permanent and allow further annual increases of CPI+1% on top of that exigent increase.

This section also would effectively remove the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) from an active oversight role in the postal rate setting process, giving the Postal Service, a federal monopoly, almost total control over setting its own rates. This would be putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.

Support the Baldwin Amendment

There is, however, a solution. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) has proposed an amendment that protects jobs in both the private and public sector and will encourage more volume (and revenue) to move through the mailstream. This amendment strikes Section 301, except the repeal of the rate preference for political committees, and maintains the current PRC rate review authority, the current CPI rate cap, and the USPS’s ability to pursue exigent rate increases.

We strongly urge the committee to vote YES on the Baldwin amendment.

Let’s pass comprehensive postal reform this year, so we can all get back to growing the mail channel instead of arguing over the details of the Postal Service’s business model!

Make sure to stop back tomorrow for an important reminder and our thoughts about the upcoming postage rate increase.

link https://www.iwco.com/blog/2014/01/23/postal-reform-groundhog-day/
Kurt Ruppel

Author

Kurt Ruppel

Director Postal Policy and Marketing Communications and graduate of Utah State University. Bringing the “all of us know more than any of us” business philosophy to IWCO Direct for more than 30 years (oy!). Three-time IWCO Direct President’s Award winner, Vice Chairman of the EMA Board of Directors, bicycling enthusiast, and Ohio State Buckeye Football fan.

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