That’s the consensus of several postal experts who have spoken or written recently about the status of postal legislation.
“If the Republicans get a majority in the Senate and hold their majority in the House, nothing will happen until 2013,” Jim O’Brien, Vice President, Distribution & Postal Affairs for Time Inc., told a mailers' focus group meeting last week. “If the Democrats hold the Senate majority and the Republicans hold the House, MAYBE something could happen in the lame duck session. If the Dems win the House and Senate, nothing will happen until 2013.”
During the post-election lame-duck session, the House is likely to approve postal legislation “that moves closer to the Senate version,” Ken Garner and Benjamin Cooper predicted a few days ago at the huge GraphExpo trade show for the printing industry. (If you’re wondering why postal issues are being discussed at a printing event, Garner, President/CEO, Mailing & Fulfillment Service Association, and Cooper, a prominent postal lobbyist, offered this factoid,: “Over one half of all print [in the U.S.] is created for mail distribution.”)
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-CA, has indicated he will introduce a “lite” version of the postal bill he guided through his committee early this year. Some have likened the original Issa plan to a Chapter 11-style restructuring of the U.S. Postal Service.
Gene Del Polito, President of the Association for Postal Commerce, agrees with Garner and Cooper that Issa’s revised proposal is likely to include some kind of relief on prepayment of retiree health benefits, as well as elimination of Saturday delivery. But “heaven only knows” whether the House and Senate will agree to any postal legislation this year.
“And if your business really depends on the provision of cost-efficient and reliable postal services, you'd better let heaven know what you need. Maybe somebody there will be listening.”
“The odds point to a 2013 bill,” O’Brien said. “Remember, Congress will not act in the absence of a crisis. The crisis SHOULD arrive in the fall of 2013 when the USPS runs out of cash.”
Garner and Cooper agree, and they fear that such a cash crisis would erode customers’ confidence in the Postal Service. It will be no easier for Congress to pass a long-term solution in 2013 than it is in 2012, they said. And no one seems to be betting that Congress will come up with a real solution next year.
“I believe if a postal bill is enacted that fails to address the imbalance between postal costs and revenues, the bill may provide a respite for some of the Postal Service's woes but there won't be a cure,” Del Polito wrote. “Within two years after enactment, there will be a postal reform redux. We'll get the same unsatisfying outcome we've gotten from the 2006 act.”
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