October 1 marked the New Year—that is, the 2014 fiscal year of the U.S. Postal Service.
But it’s the same old (sad) song, delivered by a dysfunctional Congress. Thanks to our elected Senators and Representatives, we not only have to endure not just another year of postponed reforms, waiting longer still for a reprieve from mandates of Congress from years past, but also an exigent rate case on top of a regular Consumer Price Index-capped rate hike slated for January.
For Standard Mail, that means:
- Letter Mailings CPI-capped rate increase of 1.55%
But now with the Combined CPI and Exigency, that increase jumps to 6.09%
- Flat Mailings CPI-Capped Impact 1.66%
But now with the Combined CPI and Exigency, that increase rises to 6.32%
As Charley Howard of Harte-Hanks correctly surmised, the only exigency here is “continued inaction by Congress.”
What are the chances?
- Congress will get its act together and pass a new formula for prefunding retiree healthcare costs that are more in line with … say, sanity?
- Such a reform bill will pass—and leave in place the most hard-fought, cherished centerpiece of the 2006 postal reform bill—the CPI-index cap?
- That USPS current cost-cutting discipline—and network consolidations—will continue as management had planned, with “right sizing” the infrastructure achieving its intelligent end?
- That universal delivery remains intact—in six days, or five—take your pick?
- That certainty and predictability is restored to the Postal Service’s financial picture—providing the assurances marketers crave?
Let’s put it this way—if the “right” postal reform gets deep-sixed (again) in the coming election year, then will we pass the point of no return, with marketers taking their integrated marketing dollars elsewhere? If postal reform passes, but the most important mechanism of fiscal discipline—CPI caps—are undermined, or worse removed altogether, will we pass that same point?
By this time a year from now, will the crises be solved—or compounded? The clock keeps ticking.