Sen. Carper: Postal Service Needs Freedom To Make Necessary Smart Business Decisions

WASHINGTON – Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate subcommittee with oversight authority over the U.S. Postal Service, issued the following statement in support of the Postal Service’s proposals to reduce costs and streamline operations while protecting universal service:

“As Postmaster General Potter pointed out today, the Postal Service will need to make significant, strategic changes to its operations in the coming months and years in order to maintain universal service and to provide the products and services so many Americans depend on.

“In light of the serious financial challenges facing the Postal Service, Postal management must be allowed to make the business decisions they need to stay competitive and viable in the years to come. As we have seen, it is not productive for Congress to act like a 535-member board of directors and constantly second guess these necessary changes.

“The Postmaster General has already shown that by making smart decisions – like last year’s efforts to dramatically cut costs, or the popular flat rate box promotion – the Postal Service can save money and still provide valuable services. These are positive first steps but more work remains to stave off the massive deficits that are projected to bankrupt the Postal Service. Postal management, Postal workers, and consumers will need to work together to implement these common sense measures in order to ensure that the Postal Service remains viable in the 21st Century.

“As the Postal Service embarks on the tough journey ahead, it is imperative that Congress give Postal management the flexibility they need. Too often over the years, Congress has tied the Postal Service’s hands and prevented it from making the smart business decisions needed. For example, we have prevented the Postal Service from realizing the billions in savings projected from the elimination of Saturday delivery – a difficult step, but one that large majorities of postal customers have said they can accept.

“We should also use the current crisis to re-evaluate the commercial and pricing freedoms given to the Postal Service. The law in this area was last updated in 2006, but the days ahead give us another opportunity to make certain that Postal management has all of the tools it needs to respond to the changing needs of the mailing public.

“It is also my hope that today’s sobering news from Postmaster General Potter finally compels my colleagues to act on legislation I’ve introduced to restructure the Postal Service’s unique and aggressive obligation to pre-pay its future retirees health care obligations. These payments are a major reason for the red ink that has covered the Postal Service’s balance sheets.

“Congress can no longer afford to stand in the way of the important – yet difficult – business decisions that the Postal Service must now make. I stand ready to work with my colleagues to help facilitate these important changes.”