While I was knee deep in coverage on Wednesday of the economic stimulus bill in the House, I suddenly saw an “Urgent” cross the Associated Press wire about the Postal Service raising the idea of delivering mail only five days a week.
I quickly flipped the TV channel to find that hearing and watch what I knew would be a little bit of political showdown.
The guy who is the Postmaster General seems like a guy that might be cast in Hollywood to run the mail service of the United States.
He’s from New York and has a good accent to boot, making him even better to put on the radio.
And he plays the role very well of the official who is often berated by lawmakers at public hearings over a wide variety of mailing grievances.
Maybe the only person who has a worse job in terms of Congressional testimony would be the head of the TSA, since almost every lawmaker is a frequent flier with a war story to tell about flying troubles.
In testimony to a Senate panel on Wednesday, Potter said the current economic downturn has meant a big cut in the number of letters being sent, and a big drop in revenues.
“It is possible that the cost of six-day delivery may simply prove to be unaffordable,” Potter told Senators, as he asked that Congress do away with a 1983 law that required mail delivery six days a week.
“That is where we are probably headed in the long term anyway, because of the diversion of mail from hard copy to electronics,” Potter said under questioning.
“We’re basically exploring everything we can do to draw down our costs,” he added.
But that clearly didn’t sit well with Senators, who did their best to make Potter squirm, led by Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who told Potter she was “fond of the universal service language” requiring six day mail service.
“I’m already receiving many complains from newspaper publishers and business about changes you’re making in my state,” Collins said.
“Senator, I think we are in an unprecedented situation,” Potter replied, as he gingerly expressed his reluctant support for maybe going to five day a week delivery as early as this Summer.
Here’s something you can bet on right now – at least I would – Congress won’t let that happen.
Just add them into the stimulus bill, eh?