Tad DeHaven
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The postal reform bill passed in the Senate last week is further evidence that politicians shouldn’t be entrusted with running a hotdog stand, let alone the nation’s mail. The U.S. Postal Service is supposed to operate like a business, but congressional micromanagement makes that impossible. Nevertheless, 62 senators voted for an eye-glazing 191-page bill that would keep Congress’s hand placed firmly around the USPS’s neck.

Here’s a summary from the Washington Post:

The bipartisan measure passed 62 to 37 and would give the Postal Service nearly $11 billion to offer buyouts and early retirement incentives to hundreds of thousands of postal workers and to pay off its debts…The measure also would permit the end of Saturday mail deliveries in two years, only after USPS determines it is financially necessary. The Postal Service also could move forward with plans to shutter thousands of post offices and hundreds of mail distribution centers — but senators placed several restrictions on when, where and how outposts in rural communities could be closed. The bill also modifies mail service standards to ensure that the Postal Service preserves the overnight delivery of mail sent to nearby communities, but allows USPS to slow the delivery of mail destined for destinations farther away…

Senators have worked for more than a year to give USPS the ability to set postage rates and delivery schedules and to determine the fate of unprofitable post offices free of congressional intervention, but senators eager to protect home-state interests added several restrictions. They agreed to strengthen the appeals process for customers opposed to closing a post office; to force USPS to wait until after Election Day to close postal facilities in states that permit voting by mail; and to permit the Postal Service to co-locate post offices in government-owned buildings to save space and money. Senators also approved a plan that forbids the Postal Service from closing a rural post office unless the next-nearest location is no more than 10 miles away.

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Tad DeHaven

Tad DeHaven is a budget analyst at the Cato Institute. Previously he was a deputy director of the Indiana Office of Management and Budget. DeHaven also worked as a budget policy advisor to Senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Tom Coburn (R-OK).