Three Years of Stable Rates Looking Likely

On March 6 the House Committee on Government Reform approved H.R. 734, designed to cut U.S. Postal Service pension payments. The bill comes after a comparable bill emerged from the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs on March 5. If the bill is passed, according to a U.S. Postal Service statement, “it will keep the Postal Service from overpaying into the Civil Service Retirement System, thereby allowing postage rates to remain unchanged until 2006.”

The U.S. Postal Service revealed in early November that it owes far less to the Civil Service Retirement System fund than it had anticipated, and as a result, it might be able to stabilize rates for a few years. “Everyone has been saying this is too good to be true,” says Gene Del Polito, president of the Association for Postal Commerce. “We’ve been wondering who’d oppose this bill, and the fact is that with 12 lobbyists running all over the place, nobody can find a single person who’ll oppose it. So I expect it will be passed by mid- to late May, there will be no postal rate case filed, and this will be one time where we — mailers, the Postal Service, and the postal labor unions — have actually functioned as an industry, bringing pressure to bear fruit.”

If the USPS’s payments into the retirement fund are cut, the agency will save $2.9 billion this fiscal year and $2.8 billion next year. The savings will help reduce the Postal Service’s $11 million debt as well as leave the USPS with enough revenue to keep postage rates flat until 2006.

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