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National Newspaper Association Chair Brett Wesner, president of Wesner Publications, Cordell, Oklahoma, has echoed the call of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy for quick Congressional action in providing $58 billion in financial support to the Postal Service.
Wesner’s comments came at the conclusion of DeJoy’s release of the USPS 10-year plan “Delivering for America,” in which multiple changes in USPS’ approach to preserving Universal Service were laid out in broad strokes. Much detail in how the plan will be executed is yet to come. Wesner said NNA would take a “wait and see” approach on specifics, but was watchful for any threat to service reliability.
The plan includes the expectation of $44 billion in higher postage revenue from mailers and package businesses over 10 years, following the Postal Regulatory Commission’s authorization of higher postage rates that could cost newspaper mailers up to 9% increases each year. The plan also asks Congress for $58 billion in changes for funding of employee benefits. DeJoy said if Congress acts, the Postal Service might not need to use the full authorized postage rate increase.
USPS will eliminate air transportation for much of its long-distance First-Class mail, but does not expect a loss of actual service performance for local First-Class mail, DeJoy said. He noted that by reducing hand-offs of mail and packages to multiple legs of air travel, USPS hopes to make surface transportation more dependable than air freight.
USPS also rolled out a plan for a new service called USPS Connect to make it easier for local businesses to send packages. More detail on that service also is expected in days to come.
Wesner said NNA was concerned about losses in service performance as well as higher prices, but said he believed the key action would be from Congress.
“USPS has faced many challenges from reduced mail volume to COVID shutdowns,” Wesner said. “But the point where we find ourselves today is largely because of inaction from Congress, which has spent a decade failing to find the sweet spot to support the nation’s need for Universal Service. NNA has long called for Congress to change the requirement for USPS to prefund its retiree health benefit, to use the Medicare benefit that mailers have paid for on behalf of postal workers and to make sure the money captured in the Civil Service Retirement System is actually the Postal Service’s obligation only and not money being used to support other federal needs.
“Now we amplify this call. If Congress does not act, the entire system is in jeopardy.”