Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) today made his long-awaited second pass at postal reform. As expected, the Improving Postal Operations, Service, and Transparency Act of 2015 (or iPOST) frees the U.S. Postal Service from its current payment schedule for retiree health care benefits and gives the agency new fund investment options.
Of key interest to mailers, iPOST bakes the 4.3% exigent surcharge into the base postal rate, while freezing any new rate increases until, possibly, 2018.
“My legislation offers a comprehensive solution to the problems facing the Postal Service,” said Carper in a statement. “It would put the agency on solid financial footing, improve service, and allow it to better adapt to a digital age. This legislation reflects the views of a broad range of stakeholders and I believe it can help pave the way to a thoughtful compromise on a set of difficult issues that Congress and the Postal Service have struggled with for years.”
- Make the exigent surcharge permanent and freeze any further increases until the Postal Regulatory Commission can install a new rate-making system. Its iPOST deadline for doing so is January 18, 2018.
- Place moratoriums of two years on facility closings and consolidations, and five years on Post Offices.
- Eliminate the statutory payments for healthcare benefits, cancel outstanding payments of more than $15 billion that USPS defaulted on, and reduce the pre-funding goal to 80%. USPS will be able to invest its amortization payments for up to 10 years in a Thrift Savings Plan account instead of being forced into low-interest Treasury bonds.
- Create a new Postal Service Health Benefits program and require all Medicare-eligible retirees and employees to enroll in Medicare, including parts A, B, and D.
- Allow USPS to ship beer, wine, and spirits and partner with state and local governments in offering services.
A section-by-section summary of iPOST, as well as a complete text, can be accessed at www.carper.senate.gov/postalreform.