From Congressman Mike Ross (D-AR):
January 9, 2012
Washington – Last year, the United States Postal Service dramatically increased its attempts to close post offices around the country in order to help save the agency money, primarily those in rural areas. In fact, almost 200 postal facilities could possibly close here in Arkansas. As I believe the Postal Service should consider other cost-cutting alternatives, I strongly oppose the closure of these post offices as it would disproportionately hurt people in rural areas and those on fixed incomes.
The U.S. Postal Service is a self-supporting government agency whose revenue comes from the sales of its products and services – not from taxpayers. Recently, the agency said it is losing more than $23 million a day as a result of the economic slowdown and an increase in electronic media, such as e-mail. However, I believe the Postal Service’s troubles are much more than the economy and the Internet. The financial problems plaguing the U.S. Postal Service are due to failed management, inadequate planning and poor business practices – problems that closing a few post offices simply won’t fix.
I am also skeptical of the overall closing process, because it appears the Postal Service places little emphasis on the reaction and concerns raised by people in the affected communities. That’s why I have sent numerous letters to the Postal Service requesting a top-to-bottom review of the entire closing process and opposing the closing of post offices altogether.
I also recently joined an effort to get more than 75 Members of Congress to sign a letter to the Postal Regulatory Commission to stop the closing process and work with Congress to help find a long-term solution that protects customers and ensures the longevity of the postal system. The letter argued “widespread post office closures is the wrong way to deal with the Postal Service’s fiscal problems and could harm the Postal Service’s competitiveness in the long run.”
Finally, on Dec. 13, the U.S. Postal Service announced it would delay the closing or consolidation of any post office or mail processing facility until May 15, 2012, after receiving multiple requests by Members of Congress to halt the process. As someone who has fought hard against the closing of our post offices, I am pleased the Postal Service finally listened to the American people and their representatives in Congress. The temporary delay will allow Congress and the Postal Service to work together and explore other possible solutions.
For instance, I have helped introduce a bill, H.R. 1351, to eliminate a requirement that the Postal Service pre-pay future retiree medical benefits, which is not required of any other federal agency. This commonsense bill would save the Postal Service so much money that repealing this one requirement would give the agency a profit over the last four years.
I fought hard to stop the closing of post offices so that we can work together to find commonsense, longer-term solutions that do not disproportionately hurt people in rural areas who depend on their post office or those on fixed incomes that can’t afford the gas to drive longer distances. As your Congressman, I will keep listening to you and fighting for you in our nation’s capital and I will continue to monitor this issue very closely.