As if it weren’t bad enough that the USPS is hitting direct mailers with a big rate hike this week, lawmakers quietly redrafted the Postal Reform Act to make the controversial exigent (i.e. temporary for the duration of the emergency need) hikes permanent.
Adding insult to injury, the newly-written bill would also add “an annual 1% to the CPI cap,” according to Al Urbanski of Direct Marketing News.
“Postal issues remain a moveable feast with reform bills still pending in both the House and the Senate,” says Urbanski, noting that mailers “were hopeful that new postal legislation might remove the exigent increase entirely.”
Instead, “the new draft … would make the 4.3% exigent increase the baseline for future postal rate hikes. What’s more, it would remove the requirement that the PRC review rate increases, awarding full rate-setting power to the Postal Service,” reports Urbanski.
Industry associations are up in arms: The American Catalog Mailers Association (ACMA) and the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) are both expressing their disappointment and urging members to voice their opposition to their legislators.
What’s so frustrating about all of this is the ridiculousness of legislators drafting bills to regulate what should essentially be business decisions. The USPS and its governing process are set up to benefit only the lawmakers who keep themselves endlessly employed in tweaking with the agency’s operating issues.
The rate hikes are a bad idea. Even the Postmaster General warned Congress about potential business fallout at this delicate time. And while this new draft of the PRA allows the USPS to set its own rates, it doesn’t go far enough in letting it run itself as a business must be run to survive.