Categorized | Economy

Bill Would End Door-to-Door Mail Delivery

Does your mail still come to your front door? Do you like getting your mail 6-days a week? Well, both of those services will probably go away should Congress pass the latest bill intended to save the nearly insolvent U.S. Postal Service (USPS).

Introduced last week by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the Postal Reform Act of 2013 (H.R. 2748), would authorize the USPS to end most door-to-door mail delivery and implement the 5-day a week delivery schedule Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe had announced in February, but backed down on in April.

According to the USPS, about 30 million Americans still get their mail delivered directly to their front doors at a yearly cost to the Postal Service of about $353 per address. Delivery to individual curbside mailboxes, where about 50 million people get their mail, costs about $224 a year. Delivery to centralized neighborhood cluster mailboxes costs about $160 per address per year.

Now, ask yourself, how many people these days buy even $160 worth of postage stamps a year? Ah… There’s the problem!

Under Rep. Isssa’s Postal Reform Act, the USPS would convert almost all current residential and business address with front door delivery to either curbside or cluster box delivery over the next nine years.

Exceptions could be allowed for addresses in registered historical districts and in cases where curbside or cluster box delivery would result in “significant physical hardship to a postal patron.” Some postal customers would also be allowed to keep their front door delivery privilege by paying an as-yet unspecified annual fee.

According to Rep. Issa’s office, the USPS would save $4 billion a year by switching to curbside delivery and $6 billion by going to cluster boxes.

The bill would also remove the current no-layoff clause from future postal worker contracts and give the USPS a break on the congressionally -imposed requirement that it prefund its retiree health benefit plan.

Currently, the USPS is required make two payments a year to the U.S. Treasury totaling over $11 billion to prefund its retiree health plan. The USPS defaulted on both of its 2012 payments and is on a sad track to do so again this September.

Issa’s bill would also grant the USPS’ long standing wish to have its annual overpayments to the federal retirement system returned to its own health benefit fund.

“The legislation will create a permanent mechanism that ensures projected surpluses in the Postal Service’s pension system do not go to fund operating losses at the Postal Service, but instead protect other benefits already earned by its employees,” states Rep. Issa’s summary of the bill.

The bill would also allow the USPS to generate additional revenue by selling commercial advertising space on its massive fleet of vehicles and in post offices, and by offering local services, like selling fishing licenses, in post offices. In addition, the bill would ban national and state political committees from using the lower nonprofit postage rate.

Many rural residents will cheer provisions in the bill making it more difficult for the USPS to close their local post offices. Under the bill, the USPS would have to consider a rural community’s access to the Internet, availability of cellular phone service and distance to the next closest post office before closing its post office.

Also See: No Saturday Mail Plan Snubs Rural America

While Republicans and Democrats have their doubts and differences over details of the Postal Reform Act of 2013, the overall bill has bipartisan support and lawmakers of both parties agree that the Postal Service will not survive unless changes are made now.

In his testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on April 17, Postmaster General Donahoe state that over the last 18 months, while Congress had considered, but failed to act on postal reform legislation, the Postal Service had reported a net loss of $19 billion.

“Now is the time for bold and sweeping action, which will let us move forward with a solution that will last for years to come, instead of piecemeal efforts that will only bring us back here again, pursuing legislative reform in a few years,” Donahoe told lawmakers. “We need to act now to implement strategies designed not for the Postal Service of today, but for the Postal Service of ten, twenty, and even fifty years into the future.”

Also See:
The Direst Postal Service Warning Ever
Postal Service Just Keeps on Bleeding Green

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