Postal Service Board Postpones Decision on Rate-Hike Request

U. S. Postal Service letter carrier Terry Caldwell, of Topsham, Maine, background, delivers mail in Bath, Maine, Monday, Dec. 5, 2011. The Postal Service, which has been losing money for five years, announced Monday that it would close 252 out of 461 mail processing centers across the country starting next April. (AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach)
National Journal
Billy House
Sept. 5, 2013, 3:30 p.m.

The U.S. Postal Ser­vice on Thursday post­poned un­til late Septem­ber its de­cision on wheth­er to re­quest a postal-rate in­crease — which some out­side groups have said they fear could reach as high as 10 per­cent.

A state­ment re­leased by the Postal Ser­vice’s board of gov­ernors con­firmed that the pan­el met Thursday and, as part of its agenda in a closed-door meet­ing, “con­sidered pri­cing is­sues, in­clud­ing the pos­sib­il­ity of fil­ing for price ad­just­ments.”

The gov­ernors, the state­ment said, “con­tin­ue to listen to stake­hold­ers and have post­poned fi­nal pri­cing de­cisions un­til the next sched­uled Board of Gov­ernors meet­ing” sched­uled for Sept. 24 and 25.

The board is weigh­ing the move as the Postal Ser­vice con­tin­ues to bleed money — as much as $19 bil­lion since early 2012. The in­creased costs would hit every­one, in­clud­ing in­di­vidu­als who put a stamp on a piece of mail. Co­ali­tions and groups that rep­res­ent big mail­ers — like magazines, news­pa­pers, and dir­ect-mar­ket­ing groups — have been lob­by­ing ag­gress­ively against any big hike.

Mem­bers of Con­gress led by House Over­sight and Gov­ern­ment Re­form Com­mit­tee Chair­man Dar­rell Issa, R-Cal­if., have been wrest­ling with ways to cut the Postal Ser­vice’s costs, such as end­ing Sat­urday mail de­liv­ery.

“It’s an agency in crisis,” Issa said this sum­mer, “but it’s also an en­tity that must be saved, but it’s an en­tity that needs to trim costs.”

Postal-rate in­creases are capped at in­fla­tion, as meas­ured by the Con­sumer Price In­dex. That would mean an al­low­able in­crease of about 2 per­cent for im­ple­ment­a­tion in Janu­ary.

But a 2006 law also al­lows the Postal Ser­vice to seek a high­er rate in­crease bey­ond the CPI in in­stances of “ex­i­gent” cir­cum­stances — and that is what is un­der con­sid­er­a­tion now. Such re­quests are to be made to the Postal Reg­u­lat­ory Com­mis­sion, which has 90 days to pass them.

In 2010, the Postal Ser­vice sub­mit­ted a re­quest for an ex­i­gent rate in­crease of 5.6 per­cent — far avove the CPI cap — that would have brought in more than $3 bil­lion an­nu­ally. But the mail­ers fought that in­crease in court and it was de­railed.

Some of the same groups that lob­bied against that hike said Thursday they were en­cour­aged by the de­cision to delay a new form­al re­quest for such an “ex­i­gent” rate in­crease.

“This ac­tion af­fords us ad­di­tion­al time to work with them and de­tail the dev­ast­at­ing im­pact a rate in­crease would have on the mail­ing in­dustry and the 8.4 mil­lion jobs that de­pend on it,” said Mary Bern­er, pres­id­ent and CEO of the As­so­ci­ation of Magazine Me­dia, in a state­ment.

“It also gives us, the Postal Ser­vice, and the en­tire mail­ing in­dustry ad­di­tion­al time to con­tin­ue work­ing in con­cert to con­vince Con­gress that the solu­tion to the Postal Ser­vice’s prob­lems lies not in rate in­creases, but in mean­ing­ful postal-re­form le­gis­la­tion,” she said.

What We're Following See More »
ALL RIDERS TO BE AFFECTED
Metro to Begin Rolling Closures Next Month
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Beginning next month, Metro will begin a series of "about 15 separate large-scale work projects," each of which will close down stations and/or sections of track for up to weeks at a time. The entire initiative is expected to take about a year. The Washington Post has a list of the schedule of closures, and which lines and stations they'll affect.

Source:
ANOTHER MEETING WITH PRIEBUS
Trump to Meet with Ryan, Leadership Next Week
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

A day after saying he could not yet support Donald Trump's presidential bid, House Speaker Paul Ryan has invited the billionaire to a meeting in Washington next week with House leadership. Ryan and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus will also meet separately with Trump. 

Source:
‘EXACTING STANDARDS’
Obama on Trump: ‘This Is a Really Serious Job’
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"President Obama used the White House podium on Friday to dismiss Donald Trump as an unserious candidate to succeed him, and said leading the country isn't a job that's suited to reality show antics." At a briefing with reporters, the president said, "I just want to emphasize the degree to which we are in serious times and this is a really serious job. This is not entertainment. This is not a reality show. This is a contest for the presidency of the United States. And what that means is that every candidate, every nominee needs to be subject to exacting standards and genuine scrutiny."

Source:
MORE EXECUTIVE ORDERS
Panama Papers Spur White House to Crack Down on Evasion
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

In the The White House on Thursday night unveiled a series of executive actions to combat money laundering—"among the most comprehensive response yet to the Panama Papers revelations." The president's orders will tighten transparency rules, close loopholes that allow "foreigners to hide financial activity behind anonymous entities in the U.S., and demand stricter “customer due diligence” rules for banks.

Source:
THE QUESTION
Who’s #NeverTrump Courting as Possible Candidates
4 hours ago
THE ANSWER

The #NeverTrump movement is now mulling the idea of recruiting a candidate to run as an independent or under a third-party banner. But who might it be? The Hill offers a preliminary list.

  • Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE)
  • Mitt Romney
  • 2012 (and perhaps 2016) Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson
  • Former Marine Gen. John Kelly
  • Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI)
  • Former Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK)
  • South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley
  • Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
Source:
×