Price matters in postal reform

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The Senate plan for postal reform would leave newspapers facing mailing price increases.

The wide split between House and Senate postal bills also decreases the likelihood of any reform becoming law, said Max Heath, postal chairman for the National Newspaper Association.

“The USPS and mailers are between a rock and a hard place,” Heath said.

The Senate bill would:

• Let the rate cap attached to the Consumer Price Index expire in 2016, when the U.S. Postal Service could set its own rates. This would leave mailers facing “exigent” price increases above inflation, Heath said.

• Preserve Saturday delivery for at least one year after passage.

• Cut the Postal Services’ retiree health costs by nearly half by reducing pre-funding payments over 40 years.

• Give a two-year moratorium on plant and retail office closings.

• Allow the Postal Service to receive up to $6 billion of any surplus it pays into the Federal Employee Retirement System to cover operating costs.

• Permit the agency to seek its own healthcare employee plan.

A postal reform bill introduced in the House last month left the rate cap untouched and recommended consolidating redundant postal operations.

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