Jake Johnson, Common Dreams
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is facing backlash over his newly announced plan to hike postcard and stamp prices as part of his proposed 10-year overhaul of mail operations, a strategy that critics warn will further damage the Postal Service.
Late last week, the USPS notified the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) of its planned price increases, which are set to take effect in January. Under the new pricing proposal, which must be approved by the PRC, the cost of a stamp would rise 4.2% to 63 cents while the cost of a postcard would jump 9% to 48 cents.
The Postal Service cited the need to “offset the rise in inflation” in justifying the price hikes, but Government Executive‘s Eric Katz pointed out Tuesday that “DeJoy has previously suggested the increases would continue to allow the Postal Service to reach a financial break-even point.”
Why a federal agency would need to reach “break-even” is a question that observers have asked for months as DeJoy——a former logistics executive and Trump megadonor—has rushed ahead with pricing changes, job cuts, and postal facility closures in a purported attempt to make the public USPS “profitable.”
DeJoy has told consumers and the mailing industry to expect USPS prices to continue rising “at an uncomfortable rate” for the foreseeable future as the postmaster general vows to remain in his position despite sustained calls for his removal. The Postal Service Board of Governors, which has the authority to oust DeJoy, approved the new price increase.
Kevin Yoder, a former GOP congressman and executive director of Keep US Posted—an alliance of consumer and business groups—warned in a statement Tuesday that “if DeJoy’s frequent postage hikes are allowed to take place, Americans could soon be paying well over $1 to mail a single letter.”
“The January 2023 rate increases will impact every American, as well as industries that depend on the mail to serve the public,” said Yoder. “In fact, with July’s increase this year, newspapers faced a 9% postage increase, and nonprofits’ mail costs increased more than 6%. We can’t let the Postal Service sabotage itself by driving industries out of business and driving consumers away from using the mail.”
“It’s a relief to see Congress step in with H.R. 8781 to ensure that mail service remains accessible to all,” Yoder added.
H.R. 8781 is Rep. Gerry Connolly’s (D-Va.) recently introduced Ensuring Accurate Postal Rates Act, a bill that would require a reassessment of the authority DeJoy has used to hike prices significantly during his scandal-plagued tenure as postmaster general.
“We must ensure that rate hikes do not return the Postal Service to a service of the privileged,” Connolly said during a hearing last month.
DeJoy’s latest pricing announcement came a day after a federal judge ruled that the postmaster general’s cost-cutting measures—including limits to overtime pay and a ban on late delivery trips—were to blame for alarming mail slowdowns ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
“There were already enough reasons to fire Postmaster General DeJoy, but this court ruling that DeJoy’s actions in 2020 affected mail service is yet another reason,” Noah Bookbinder, president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, wrote in response to the decision.
“DeJoy’s conflicts of interest and attacks on a basic government function mean he has to go,” Bookbinder added.