Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What do House Republicans Think About Budget Changes Relating to the Postal Service?

Now that the President's 2012 budget is out, both Senator Tom Carper and Senator Susan Collins have already commented on the proposal to provide some modifications to the Postal Service's retirement obligations.   To date, members of the house who are leading the subcommittee responsible for marking up legislation that would enact the changes that the President proposed have made any public statement about their views on the proposed statements.

As both Representatives Dennis Ross (R-FL) and Justin Amash (R-MI) are freshmen,  they have no history with Postal issues and are more than likely coming to the issue with not much more background in the postal market than the average consumer.  Given their lack of experience with the issue, it is not surprising that they did not immediately respond to the budget as the Senators Carper and Collins did.

What we have to go on is their public statements so here is a review of quotes from articles and press releases that may provide some guidance.

Congressman Dennis Ross

Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post interviewed Congressman Ross after he was appointed chairman of the Government Reform Committee's subcommittee on federal workers, the Postal Service and labor policy.  In that interview he honestly expressed that the issues before the subcommittee were new to him although he had proposed similar changes in the federal payroll during his campaign.

Ross noted that he proposed trimming the federal payroll through pay freezes or attrition during his campaign. His new role, he said, presents "an exciting opportunity to open up and look inside the workings of our federal workforce" and learn more on a topic about which he admits he knows little.

Later the article gave an impression as to how he plans to run the subcommittee

Ross's subcommittee will focus first on those proposals by gathering facts and not pushing "a hidden agenda," he said. "We want to ask a lot of questions, we want to get a lot of experts testifying before us, and we want to find out what it's going to take" to deliver benefits to active and retired federal employees in a cost-effective manner, Ross said.

Congressman Justin Amash

Congressman Amash has a bit more of a public record that is available from his press releases. In a jhttp://amash.house.gov/press-release/amash-selected-oversight-leadership following his appointment as Vice Chairman of Government Reform Committee's subcommittee on federal workers, the Postal Service and labor policy, he presented an initial position on postal issues:

"USPS has raised its rates in the last several years and now is threatening steep service cuts. I look forward to examining closely whether some of USPS's functions could be done more efficiently through competition and the private sector."

In a press release announcing his appointment to the Congress's Joint Economic Committee, Representative Amash stated, 

"I look forward to studying how the government’s expansion has inhibited our economic growth and how we can be champions of job creators.”

Finally, in a press release following the publication of the President's budget, Congressman Amash provides the following quote:

“Instead of fresh ideas and a bipartisan way forward, the proposed budget feeds Washington’s addiction to more taxes, more spending, and more debt.  The White House’s own projections show a ‘new normal’ of debt that we have not seen since we were fighting World War II."

“Americans expect more from their representatives, as well they should.  With four years in a row of trillion dollar deficits, the public demands that we be more than caretakers of a bloated federal bureaucracy.  They deserve more than token cuts.  They deserve a responsible government.

“I look forward to working with House leadership and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to remove the debt burden from our children and future generations.”  

In sum,  these statements suggest that the Republicans leading the Government Reform Committee's subcommittee on federal workers, the Postal Service and labor policy are faced with looking at a signifiant change in postal law with a limited understanding of:
  • the postal market, 
  • the roll that the Postal Service plays in the economy and 
  • the challenges of turning around an enterprise as large as the Postal Service in a manner that does not disrupt the success of businesses, governments, and non-profit entities, including the campaigns they will likely run in another year that depend on the existence of a nationwide postal network. 
In all likelihood, both Congressman Ross and Amash will soon realize that gaining that understanding will take more effort than either of them envisioned when they were first appointed. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

1. Of the millions of money the PO
has to give to the gov. for retirement benefits,howmuch isleft and where has it ALL gone.
2. In Canada, the PO rates are much
more than here & if you want to put
in a change of address, you MUST pay for EACH change. Our PO rates
are so much cheaper than any other