Today the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will markup the Postal Service Reform Act of 2016, proposed by Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and the committee’s Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.).
While the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is in dire need of reform, given that it has posted consecutive billion dollar losses annually since 2007 and is facing $125 billion in unfunded liabilities, a number of provisions in the Postal Service Reform Act (the Act) are cause for concern.
First, the Act provides for an increase in rates on certain postal products. Such a move has the effect of forcing consumers beholden to a government monopoly to cover USPS shortfalls. Second, the Act works to expand the Postal Service’s role to services outside of the USPS’s core mission of mail delivery. USPS should not look to expand it’s mission to areas such as grocery delivery, banking, and other ill-advised schemes, but instead focus on improving the Postal Service’s core mission.
Ahead of the hearing, ATR President Grover Norquist sent a letter today to Chairman Chaffetz, Ranking Member Cummings, and committee members, expressing these concerns. Text of the letter is below:
July 12, 2016
Dear Chairman Chaffetz, Ranking Member Cummings, and Committee Members:
On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), and millions of taxpayers nationwide, we write regarding the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s markup today of the Postal Service Reform Act of 2016, introduced by Chairman Jason Chaffetz and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings.
While increasing the operational efficiency and financial stability of the United States Postal Service (USPS) is a laudable goal, a number of the reforms contained in the Postal Service Reform Act are not in line with achieving that goal. Instead, provisions within the Act providing for the increase of postal rates and an expansion beyond the core mission of mail delivery will only perpetuate many of the issues already plaguing the Postal Service.
It is no secret the Postal Service has suffered from prolonged financial instability. Since 2007 the Postal Service has consecutively posted billions in losses and is facing $125 billion in unfunded liabilities, most of which is due in part to the decline of traditional mail.
Although these issues are concerning, the answer should not be reforms that increase rates on some of the Postal Service’s most profitable products, essentially forcing consumers beholden to a government monopoly to cover USPS shortfalls. It is also not the answer to expand USPS services further outside of the core mission of mail delivery by creating a “Chief Innovation Officer” tasked with developing and implementing “nonpostal products and services.”
Lawmakers should instead look to make meaningful reforms that focus on improving the efficiency of the Postal Service’s core mission of mail delivery and increase operational transparency and accountability.
Grover G. Norquist
Americans for Tax Reform
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