Civic News

Sen. Carper wants to reform the USPS again

The United States Postal Service is in the red. The Delaware senator thinks he has a solution.

The original delivery startup.

(Photo by Flickr user Ron Doke, used under a Creative Commons license)

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del) has been attempting to reform the United States Postal Service since 2011. Back then, the senator’s highly criticized POST Act was designed address the pension and retiree health issues sucking the life out of postal finances by throwing up to $75 billion in bailout dollars at the service.
While the POST Act of 2011 never quite caught the momentum it needed, a glimmer of Carper’s postal reform dreams were included as amendments to the bi-partisan 21st Century Postal Service Act of 2012, which passed in the Senate 62 to 37 before all but tuckering out in the Republican-controlled House.
Though his multiple attempts have all faltered, Carper has kept his chin up. The senator is hoping his newest postal reform bill, introduced late last week without co-sponsors, will pick up the traction it needs to surpass its predecessors.
It’s called iPOST (Improving Postal Operations, Services and Transparency), and it’s a fully loaded package deal aimed at stabilizing the postal service in the “digital age.”
“The Postal Service currently owes $15 billion and faces tens of billions of dollars more in unfunded pension and health care obligations in the years to come,” said Carper. “It ended fiscal year 2014 with a net loss of $5.5 billion, bringing its cumulative deficit since fiscal year 2007 to $51.7 billion, according to the Postal Regulatory Commission.”
Carper’s iPOST would implement a two-year moratorium on further USPS plant closures, make service performance much more transparent and establish a viable health insurance plan for postal workers — among a handful of other measures.
“This bill is a starting point and will change as I continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, including Chairman Ron Johnson [R-Wis.], stakeholders from rural, urban and suburban communities, businesses of all sizes, postal customers, leadership and employees,” he said.
As it stands, Carper’s bill is lacking much-needed support from the USPS, which also opposed his 2013 attempt to reform the service.
“We cannot support those elements of [Carper’s] recently introduced proposal that would expand regulatory bureaucracy and hinder our ability to control costs and respond to a rapidly changing marketplace,” Sarah Ninivaggi, a USPS spokeswoman, told Government Executive, adding that the service is willing to continue working with Carper to devise a solution.
Despite the rise of private, online-based delivery services, Carper said the country still relies on the USPS — and he’s willing to compromise to make reform a reality.
“Put simply, our economy still depends on a healthy and robust Postal Service,” the senator said in a press release. “It’s our duty in Congress to pave a fiscally sustainable path that will enable this American institution to thrive. But it is going to take collaboration, communication, and compromise for us to be successful.”

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