Thursday, April 26, 2012

Senate approves plan for U.S. Post Office "relief"

Read the story in yesterday's New York Times.  I note that it this particular item does not mention the issue of rural post office closures in particular, though it does note that proposed closures will be delayed.  A short excerpt follows:
The Senate on Wednesday overcame opposition from several Republicans and passed legislation that would overhaul the financially ailing Postal Service, voting weeks before the agency plans to begin closing thousands of post offices and consolidating hundreds of processing centers to cut costs.  
NPR's coverage of the Senate action is here.   David Welna's story pays more attention to the rural-urban axis, writing:
Senators were divided over the bill less by party than by strength of their ties to rural America.   
The "postmaster general originally was talking about shutting down 3,700 rural post offices in every state in the country," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont.  "And I hope that members understand that a post office in a rural town is more than just a post office.  [If that] post office disappears--in many cases, that town disappears." 
Too bad, said critics of the bill, who dismissed it a a futile attempt to preserve an institution overtaken by technological change.  
"I hope that my colleagues understand we are looking at basically a dying part of America's economy," said Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain.
Welna notes that while two-thirds of Americans favor cessation of Saturday mail delivery in order to save money, only 12% support closure of their local post office.  He closes with a quote from Claire McCaskill, D-Mo, who offered the amendment that extends for another year the moratorium on post office closings.  She notes that during that year, "the reforms ...embedded in this bill have a chance to begin to work.  It then sets some clear standards for potential closures."

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