Postal Rates

Pro­posed in­crease a symp­tom of a big­ger prob­lem

Texarkana Gazette - - OPINION -

This week the Postal Ser­vice an­nounced a pro­posal to raise rates for a first-class let­ter from 50 cents to 55 cents.

While just a nickel, the in­crease would be the largest sin­gle per­cent­age hike in his­tory.

The USPS also plans to raise the price of pri­or­ity mail about 5.9 per­cent. As a con­so­la­tion, the price of let­ters more than 1 ounce in weight would go down a bit. For ex­am­ple, a 2-ounce let­ter would cost 70 cents in­stead of the cur­rent 71 cents.

“The Gov­er­nors be­lieve these new rates will keep the Postal Ser­vice com­pet­i­tive while pro­vid­ing the agency with needed rev­enue,” the USPS said in a press re­lease, adding it of­fers “some of the low­est let­ter mail postage rates in the in­dus­tri­al­ized world and also con­tin­ues to of­fer a great value in ship­ping.” The move comes as the USPS is try­ing to deal with fall­ing rev­enue and bil­lions in red ink. They make a good bit of money from pack­ages—Ama­zon is big cus­tomer. But pro­vid­ing the pub­lic with first-class mail ser­vice and de­liv­ery—once a cash cow for the post of­fice—is a los­ing propo­si­tion in these days of email.

The pro­posed in­crease now goes be­fore The Postal Reg­u­la­tory Com­mis­sion for ap­proval.

What’s to be done about the Postal Ser­vice? As an in­de­pen­dent agency of the U.S. gov­ern­ment, it doesn’t get tax dol­lars to fund its ex­pense. But those ex­penses have long been grow­ing and rev­enue hasn’t kept up. There have been re­form ef­forts, but the re­duced ser­vices in­cluded were un­pop­u­lar with the pub­lic and Congress wouldn’t risk the blow­back.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has vowed to bring the USPS into the black. And in March the Se­nate made big noise about fast-track­ing a re­form bill to help make that a re­al­ity—or at least closer to re­al­ity. Among other pro­vi­sions, it would give the USPS some re­lief in med­i­cal and pen­sion ex­penses for re­tirees.

But so far? No vote. Congress needs to get back on track with this bill. The USPS is a vi­tal agency that can’t go on like it has been in these chang­ing times.

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