New Senate Postal Reform Bill Probably Dead on Arrival

Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) has introduced a new bill to ostensibly save the U.S. Postal Service from rack and ruin http://www.carper.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/a84f951e-448f-4ea4-b836-d077b5f28456/ipost-one-pager.pdf.

I guess you’ve got to give Carper, a longtime postal reform advocate, some credit for trying. Too bad many of these ideas are probably doomed in Congress.

One of them is to lift existing legal restrictions and letting the USPS ship liquor. Maybe he USPS could make a buck or two here but it would have to face down likely opposition from the liquor industry.

The postal service floated this idea a year or two ago after it essentially walked away from its ridiculous 2011 proposal for selling beer and wine at post offices.

The Senator also calls for things like reforming the existing postal pension systems that would have newer employees paying more out of their own pockets. That might be inevitable since it’s been going on in the private sector for quite some time.

But Congress is gonna have one hell of a fight on its hands from the postal labor unions if this proposal sees the light of day.

This is not at all to be confused with the USPS’s annual burden for paying the healthcare costs of future retired employees for the next 70-plus years.
But Carper calls only for modification, not the outright abolition, of this unpayable obligation.

This provision, inserted into the 2006 postal reform law massively helped worsen USPS finances which were already under pressure from fast-growing electronic communications.

Which may well have been this law’s intent all along.

Carper’s measure also calls for a two-year “pause” in the shuttering of postal facilities. This is intended to help restore earlier USPS service standards.
Why not permanently stopping these cutbacks? The public and businesses just might get behind such an idea, not a lily-livered pause in closures.

Even the postal service opposes this bill, saying it does not go far enough to clean up its financial mess, according to Govexec.com http://www.govexec.com/oversight/2015/09/usps-opposes-latest-postal-reform-bill-others-open-proposals/121481/.

But none of this may make any difference in an increasingly intransigent and reactionary Congress. This is especially true in the House where a loud minority may feel further emboldened after it just helped oust Speaker John Boehner.

Prospects are no better in the Senate where Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson has long said he’d rather see the USPS perish than get rescued, according to the Federal Times http://archive.federaltimes.com/article/20141110/MGMT04/311100010/Incoming-oversight-chair-eyes-Postal-Service-bankruptcy-cutting-job-protections.

One of Johnson’s goals is to eviscerate the unions. That’s not gonna happen.

But now Johnson’s going chair the Senate Governmental Operations Committee which oversees the postal service.

At least Carper is still trying to rescue the USPS. And who knows? Maybe this bill will get some traction when he reintroduces it next year in the middle of the Presidential election campaign.

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