CQ TODAY ONLINE NEWS
Feb. 14, 2012 – 12:31 a.m.
Postal Service Debate Centers on New Areas of Revenue
By Alan K. Ota, CQ Staff
Lawmakers trying to avoid Postal Service scenarios that involve ending Saturday deliveries and massive layoffs are floating ideas to remake the post office as a broader enterprise with new revenue streams.
But many of those ideas come from congressional Democrats and other allies of organized labor and federal workers. Republicans are hesitant to allow the USPS to engage in further competition with private sector companies.
President Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget, sent to the Hill on Monday, proposes delivering mail only five days a week, raising postage by 1.8 percent, and “more collaboration” between the postal service and state and local governments.
The Postal Service has been an independent agency since the 1970 postal overhaul (PL 91-375), but cannot enter new lines of business unless they specifically are permitted by law.
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman
Lieberman agrees with the idea of Postal Service links to state and local governments, and has shared the example of having state fishing licenses sold through post offices. Sen.
Lieberman says he hopes to assuage concerns of small-government conservatives with his inclusion of a ban on “unfair competition” with the private sector, but one of his ideas — Postal Service delivery of interstate shipments of beer and wine — would put mailmen in competition with FedEx and United Parcel Service.
House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman
But Issa is open to some new Postal Service ventures involving state and local government. The House version of the postal overhaul bill (
But Issa cautions that allowing the tax-exempt Postal Service to compete against private-sector businesses in new fields would create a whole new set of problems.
Social conservatives, including Rep.
Issa and Chaffetz also have signaled resistance to the launch of USPS ventures such as coffee shops to retail kiosks. “I’m worried about competition with Main Street. The Postal Service is not paying local property taxes,” Chaffetz says.