Key senator opposes USPS transformation plan

(Direct Newsline) Ted Stevens, the Senate’s second-ranking Republican and a long-time supporter of the U.S. Postal Service, said he is opposed to any legislative attempts to increase the financially ailing agency’s authority to set its own prices.

The Alaska Republican, who helped write the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 creating the USPS out of the old Post Office Department, said there was no reason to change the law and that the USPS was “doing just fine” as it is.

Stevens, who is also the ranking GOP member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said changing the law to reform the USPS before 2015 would be “ill advised” because of the rapid changes under way in the communications industry.

Instead of changing the law, Stevens said he would rather see Congress give the USPS, which is facing a projected $1.5 billion debt this fiscal year, “several hundred million dollars” during the next 12 years so that it could become fiscally sound again.

He made the comments while attending a Senate subcommittee hearing on the Postal Service’s proposed transformation plan chaired by Sen. Daniel Akaka (R-HI), who also had reservations about the agency’s proposal.

At one point in the hearing, Akaka said the USPS should get its house in order before Congress would “consider giving it more flexibility” to set prices, enter into negotiated service agreements with high-volume mailers, or introduce products and services without first seeking the support of the Postal Rate Commission.

But in testifying before the panel, Postmaster General John Potter said the plan “offers the flexibility to give the USPS the long-term tools it needs” to become a viable and self-sustaining government service again.

Coincidental to the PMG’s testimony, the USPS reported that as of April 22 its loss for the year is $285.1 million, double its loss on the same date of last year. Although the USPS had projected by that date it would take in $43.3 billion, it had grossed only $41.3 billion, less than the $41.6 billion taken in the year before.

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