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    Taxpayer Groups Question New Postal Handouts Without Reform

    11/06/2001

    Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) President Tom Schatz last week joined other taxpayer groups -- Paul Beckner of Citizens for a Sound Economy, Pete Sepp of the National Taxpayers Union, Amy Ridenour of the National Center for Public Policy Research, Rick Merritt of PostalWatch, and Hank Hough of the 60 Plus Association -- to send President George W. Bush the following letter regarding potential postal reform:

    In the wake of recent, horrific incidents involving terrorist attacks and the dissemination of anthrax through the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), we salute your leadership. It is clear that your entire administration is intensively engaged in bolstering the confidence of American citizens and to ensure the safety of the U.S. mail system across the nation.
    The personal safety of postal workers and, indeed, the effectiveness of our postal infrastructure are of paramount importance to the undersigned groups as well. We support many of the steps postal officials have taken to further protect the postal workers' health, the integrity of postal infrastructure and the continuation of mail delivery, including the procurement and use of irradiation machines to sanitize the mail and the distribution of gloves and protective masks to postal workers. These steps will help calm fears and encourage confidence in the nation's mail system.
    Unfortunately, there has been discussion in Congress, at the Postal Service, and in the media that the current crisis has provided the much-needed impetus to enact legislative initiatives which purport to "reform" the Postal Service. It is the opinion of the undersigned groups that now is precisely the wrong time to simply throw more money at the longstanding problems facing the USPS or to allow the current crisis to be used to precipitate ill-advised legislative changes, which would further enhance the Postal Service's monopolistic powers without materially improving its systemic problems.
    Even prior to September 11 and the subsequent anthrax attacks, the USPS was experiencing a significant financial crisis. These problems grow directly out of chronic mismanagement and the absence of true accountability within the Postal Service. These difficulties will not be corrected by rushing headlong into an even larger, multi-billion dollar bailout scheme or by hurriedly enacting the same controversial legislative changes that have repeatedly failed to win approval in Congress. In fact, such a knee-jerk response today would seriously compromise Congress' and the executive branch's ability to pursue meaningful market-oriented reform in the future.
    We suggest that some portion of the funding needed to take immediate action on behalf of postal workers and mail recipients is already available within the USPS were it to shift resources away from activities not related to its core mission, such as advertising and e-commerce. As a result, we will strongly and vigorously oppose any attempts to attach misguided "reform" initiatives to any emergency Postal Service relief under consideration. Given the Postal Service's well-documented history of waste, mismanagement and inability to effectively evaluate capital expenditures, now is the time for increased oversight and accountability, not bailouts and superficial fixes masquerading as postal reform.
    Mr. President, nothing compares to the losses, both in human and economic terms, that the nation has endured since September 11 and we are mindful of the potential losses that may come in the future. We encourage your administration to maintain the calm approach it has taken throughout this ordeal; to firmly resist overreaction based upon emotion and partisanship; and to pursue policies that are bold, responsible, and the best course of action for the country in the long run. While a decisive and measured response to threats of mail-borne bioterrorism must be a national priority, today's events must not become an opportunity to whitewash the USPS's myriad financial and management ills or further enable its well-documented operational problems.

    Contact Information: Sean Rushton, Tom Schatz or Philippa Jeffery of the Citizens Against Government Waste, +1-202-467-5300; or Pete Sepp of the National Taxpayers Union, +1-703-683-5700; or Paul Beckner of the Citizens For A Sound
    Economy, +1-202-783-3870; or Rick Merritt of PostalWatch, +1-800-901-3332; or Amy Ridenour of the National Center for Public Policy Research, +1-202-371-1400; or Hank Hough of 60 Plus Association, +1-703-807-2070.

    CAGW is the nation's largest taxpayer advocacy group with over one million members and supporters nationwide. It is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, mismanagement and abuse in government.

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    SOURCE Citizens Against Government Waste

    CONTACT: Sean Rushton, Tom Schatz or Philippa Jeffery of the Citizens Against Government Waste, +1-202-467-5300; or Pete Sepp of the National Taxpayers Union,
    +1-703-683-5700; or Paul Beckner of the Citizens For A Sound Economy,
    +1-202-783-3870; or Rick Merritt of PostalWatch, +1-800-901-3332; or Amy
    Ridenour of the National Center for Public Policy Research, +1-202-371-1400; or Hank Hough of 60 Plus Association, +1-703-807-2070

    URL: http://www.prnewswire.com

    on 11/6/01.