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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 01/12/2011

Newt Gingrich doesn't like the 'Forever Stamp'

By Ed O'Keefe

Newt Gingrich. (Steven Senne/AP)

Looks like Newt Gingrich may never end up on a postage stamp.

The former House speaker, an oft-mentioned 2012 presidential candidate, is weighing in on an issue few Republicans ever talk about in great detail: The future of the U.S. Postal Service.

In his weekly e-mail to supporters, Gingrich blasts a recent decision to make all future stamps "Forever Stamps" that can be used whenever postage rates go up.

"Anyone who has had to hunt around for 1 or 2 cent stamps to add to their old stamps after an increase may consider this good news," Gingrich says. But it's a short-term fix to an even bigger long term problem that is setting the stage for a future taxpayer bailout, he argues.

"The Post Office is facing budget shortfalls because it is unwilling to engage in the necessary reform of its operations necessary in the modern economy," he writes.

Complex labor union agreements are also to blame, he says, noting that current work rules require USPS to pay a large group of employees "more than a million dollars a week to do nothing. Instead of being able to lay off redundant workers, the Post Office (and by extension, every American who uses the mail) keeps them on salary through a program called 'standby time.'"

"If the Post Office really wants to solve its fiscal challenges, it needs to engage in the difficult work of reforming its operating procedures," Gingrich concludes.

But Gingrich may have spoken too soon: Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe has trimmed the executive ranks, closed a regional office and is promising to cut more jobs and close more locations.

Perhaps the real question is whether Gingrich -- one of the GOP's deepest and most respected thinkers -- will keep talking about the issue and later endorse any of Donahoe's efforts to right-size the mail agency. If he does, it might help create enough political momentum to push serious postal reforms through Congress this year.

Do you agree or disagree with Gingrich? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Ed O'Keefe  | January 12, 2011; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Postal Service  
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he spends money like a drunken sailor....he never cut his staff or budgets....face it, he really has no real life experience running a business....he is another worthless politician.

Posted by: OldSalt8 | January 12, 2011 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Wasn't he among those pushing Roth IRAs--the ones that you avoid future taxes by paying all taxes now--in order to generate tax revenue currently?

Anyway, it's a pretty uninformed view. How many people are going to stockpile huge amounts of stamps just to save a penny or two in a couple of years? It's not like postal rates are going up much faster than inflation. It's a pretty low return investment given the lack of liquidity. And it saves USPS from having to print a bunch of 1c stamps.

Posted by: ah___ | January 12, 2011 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Doesn't he consider the MILLIONS of extra man hours spent getting 1 and 2 cent stamps to people during a change (a person taking time to mail $200 worth of mail takes up the same time as someone needing a $1.00 sheet of 2 cent stamps)?
How about the extra effort of returned mail for weeks after the increase due to people not knowing it went up.
This is more Republican "playing to the base" -- which is dumb and doesn't consider anything past the sound bite of wasteful spending.
But he's right about these legacy costs. Pensions will be going the way of the dodo in this country. Get a 401k and contribute to it like the rest of us do.
-- John from L.A.

Posted by: kiernanje | January 12, 2011 12:12 PM | Report abuse

I love the Post Office. That is the best service this country has. I don't understand why people complain about it at all.

Posted by: ubblybubbly | January 12, 2011 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps the real question is whether Gingrich -- one of the GOP's deepest and most respected thinkers....

One more reason to laugh or cry

Posted by: jshortel | January 12, 2011 4:10 PM | Report abuse

How many businesses and government agencies DO NOT pay employees megabucks per year to stand (or sit) around doing nothing? How many good employees could any firm retain if some were immediately sent home without pay each time there was a temporary shortage of tasks to be done?

We all know how busy Congressional aides and lawmakers in our capitol are, by the number of them who find plenty of work time to get into lots of scandals and illegal activities. GIVE POSTAL EMPLOYEES A BREAK---we're hardworking people who just want to make a living and have a bit of job security, like everybody else.

The problem is that there are so many undervalued, underpaid workers in the U.S. economy. The problem is NOT that there are several hundred thousand postal workers with decent wages and benefits because we have union representation to ensure these.

Taking away our ability to make a decent living, own our own homes, and send our kids to college is not the answer. The answer is to work on getting a decent living for everyone else who is willing to work in this country.

Posted by: paperbackwriter1 | January 12, 2011 11:19 PM | Report abuse

This, "Perhaps the real question is whether Gingrich -- one of the GOP's deepest and most respected thinkers -- ," is among the dumbest statements I've seen in a long time.

Posted by: grayed1 | January 13, 2011 7:15 AM | Report abuse

Once again, but not surprisingly, an uninformed comment from a politician. The US taxpayer pays not one cent for the Postal Service operation. The Postal Service has cut almost 200 million workhours from its operations in the last two years. Republicans speak of "bailouts" when two separate, non partisan commissions have found that the Post Office was overcharged between 55 and 75 billion dollars for their retirement fund. This is Postal Service's money that the govt. has used and when it is now asked to give it back, its called a bailout! Thank goodness I don't lend Republicans money, cause when you ask for it back, they call it a "bailout."

What a joke these guys are, particularly this guy with absolutely no credibility. His chief lieutenant during the 90s, Tom Delay is going to jail and he was forced out of power under the cloud of ethics issues. Enough said!

Posted by: jbreez | January 13, 2011 8:18 AM | Report abuse

Complex labor union contracts have gotten the employees a decent wage and benefits package. Otherwise the Postal Service would be like every other Fortune 500 company, bigwigs getting the big bucks and the little guy getting nothing! Thank you Lord for Unions!

Also, the "stand-by rooms" have gone the way of the Dodo! The National Reassessment Program has taken all of the Injured on Duty personnel that were populating these rooms and they are off the clock and on DOL/OWCP rolls. If his (over)staff(ed) office had done their homework, they would know this! The Postal Service is getting rid of their injured workers, thus, reducing their staff. Not that this will save money in the long run. The discrimination law suits will take care of any money they make from this lame move! Alas, another brilliant idea from Headquarters!

Posted by: laurajayne | January 13, 2011 8:29 AM | Report abuse

New technology moves fast and changes before it can be fully implemented. The Postal Service is just that - "a service." Workers do deserve fair compensation for their labor. Excessive cost and bonuses for executive management is another issue.

Since most people no longer use the postal service for personal business, perhaps the way to cut cost is to freeze hiring and limit service to every other day delivery. Odd numbered zip codes get deliver on odd numbered days and even zip codes on even days. I can miss a day of "junk mail" from banks and other credit card vendors, etc. Such a move would probably cut management cost by up to 50%.

Posted by: hijayray | January 13, 2011 11:16 AM | Report abuse

A typical position taken by Gingrich. "Redundant workers?"--take a good look on C span during the house sessions.

Posted by: loel1044 | January 13, 2011 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Newt needs to be more informed before he posts his comments. If he wants to help the postal service with out a bail out ... get congress to pass a bill on over prefunding the health care benefits that the USPS has been required to do to the tune of over 70 billion dollars. The USPS would not require a bail out in the future in congress took action on this item.

Posted by: sheilabodell | January 13, 2011 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Newt, just more BS politics!

Unfortunately, that is the problem with this country, Congress and the Postal Service, too much politics and not enough "HONEST" problem solving. The Postal Service does not need a bail out. It needs less political meddling and oversight by Congress and more honest leadership in its top leadership ranks, and that of its Unions' too. Right now, there is too much smoke and mirrors to attain a magic number, instead of finding real solutions to real problems, and too much politics there too.

Not that I am criticizing Mr. Donahoe, the jury is still out on him, and he has not had enough time in the top slot to see what he will do. So far, his initial steps have been good ones, eliminating some of the overhead, by eliminating jobs that are not at the initial operations level of the business. However, he is in favor of eliminating Saturday delivery, and that may not be a smart move, since that is what separates the Postal Service from its competition. If things do not improve for the Postal Service it may be necessary to cut Saturday delivery, but that should be a last resort, not the first step knee jerk reaction.

No the first step is for Congress and the Federal Government to do the right thing and give back what they have taken from the Postal Service. In addition, we might not even be talking about a Postal fix, if Congress and the Federal Government would not have required the overpayment of over $75 billion from the Postal Service for USPS pensions and retiree healthcare contributions in the first place. These are costs that are not borne by any other Federal agencies, which by the way, if this overpayment is refunded to the Postal Service, it is not a bail out, and not doing so is a hidden stamp tax on the businesses and private citizens who use the Postal Service.

Isn't that that what sparked this country's founding fathers to revolt and declare there independence from England in the first place?

That is right, a stamp tax!

Isn't it ironic and clever how politicians have evolved and have been able to cover their tracks, and call giving back an over payment charge to the Postal Service as a "Bail Out" and the news media help them with this cover up by not pointing this out. If old King Gorge had these people, working for him back, in the 1700s they might have, white washed the whole Tea Stamp Tax issue and avoided the American Revolution and we still might be part of England.

God Save the Queen!

Posted by: dfw1 | January 13, 2011 1:23 PM | Report abuse

First off, Mr. Gingrich states that the "If the Post Office really wants to solve its fiscal challenges, it needs to engage in the difficult work of reforming its operating procedures,". The Postal Service has been trying for years to “reform its operating procedures” and has only met diversions and road blocks created by people like Newt who are governing our country.

It is a catch 22 situation for the Postal Service. It is well known that “changes” are drastically needed by the Postal Service to continue the tradition of bringing Americans their notes from Mom and Dad, letters from their sons and daughters, letters from Americans serving their country abroad, etc. The problem hasn’t been any lack of attempt by the Postal Service. The problem is that Congressmen and Senators all live in Small Town America and have their constituents there. None of them want to make waves in their own areas so they always vote down any changes. They place the constraints on the Postal Service and then blame it for not making the changes necessary to become a more pliant structure in the needs of today’s Society.

Has anyone ever gotten Congress to act swiftly on anything? Well imagine if you will, expecting a Government Service, {The Postal Service, which by the way is the ONLY part of Government that is expected and performs with self support} to have the ability to change anything swiftly, with Congress being the body that tells them what they can and cannot do!

It’s time for America to wake up and realize what a Gem they have with the Postal Service. Other countries pay a lot more to have their mail sent and they handle far less mail than the US Postal Service handles.

Posted by: crisscrazy3 | January 13, 2011 1:47 PM | Report abuse

One other thing I wanted to add.

The "Forever Stamp" is an idea whose time has come!

A Clerk in Plymouth MI submitted this idea through the Postal Service’s Idea program, with the initials KP, back in 2007. He got no credit for it, even though it was a brilliant idea. You see, he had a different twist to his idea, he was only thinking of it as away for the Postal Service to avoid many issues with the semi-postal issued stamps like the Breast Cancer and Stop Domestic Violence Stamps that also collect donations towards these social and medical issues. His idea called “The Forever Stamp” would have saved the Post Office the administrative costs of revaluing those stamps, so KP got no credit, even though the Postal Service modified and used his idea a couple of years later, and has now expanded it to all stamps.

So KP, here is your credit now, and the following is the reasons why it makes sense to issue everything as a Forever Stamp, now and forever.

Before run away inflation when everything was cheaper and everything only cost a few cents, and wages and other costs were not what they are today, and alas will never ever be that low again, it made sense to collect those pennies. However, with the economic situation in this country at this period in time, it no longer makes sense to collect those extra pennies that cost more to collect than the revenue it brings in.

In addition, those that stockpile Forever Stamps, the revenue it brings in now and they are not used for mailing, is the same to the Postal Service, like money you put in the bank in your checking account is to the banks. They are making money on the float until the stamps are actually used, as the Postal Service invests their excess cash to bring in additional sources of revenue, just like banks and any other business.

Instead of Newt and certain other politicians running the country we need a few more economists who understand how our business and finance works and understand the phrase "Point of diminishing return".

Newt, we need new leadership, step aside and hand the baton to the likes of Thaddeus McCotter from your party, or anyone else that understands jobs, money and the economy and is in touch with the people in their district and this country.

Posted by: dfw1 | January 13, 2011 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Gingrich is a very intelligent man who really has to struggle to try and speak to the great unwashed masses, as he sees them. He used to very adept at it, maybe he had better advisors, communication people, speech writers, who knows?

Whatever the cause, it has been painfully obvious over the last 2 years that Newt no longer has any connection to The Common Man, he has no idea what concerns or worries the American family or small businesses.

In short, his pandering used to be deft and usually spot on, but now it's wince-inducing, embarrassing, and usually wide of the mark.

He needs to give up his dreams of higher office and go fishing. He likes to drink - a lot - maybe he ought to pursue that in earnest, full-time.

In a perfect world, he would take that weepy drunk Boehner with him.

Posted by: lquarton | January 13, 2011 10:35 PM | Report abuse

There are more issues that need to be addressed then meet the eye. The USPS does not get the respect it deserves for the complicated well oiled machine that it is. The Union has negotiated a great benefits package for it's employees and I for one have appreciated the benefits during my career. However I completely disagree with the abuses I have seen the Union pull in the last couple of years. The money wasted on Grievances that should not be have been filed has been rampant. Wake up people and get back to common sense and reality.

Posted by: mickeyd1 | January 13, 2011 11:52 PM | Report abuse

Newt couldn't find a full day's work with a flashlight. What an idiot. If the PO really wanted to save money they would change the rule about not being able to tell the customer where to put their mailboxes. Door to door is nice but curbside delivery is more efficient. Hardship deliveries would be given as needed of course.

Posted by: mailman5218 | January 14, 2011 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Everybody needs to keep in mind that the goal of many members of Congress is to put the Postal Service in a position where they can justify allowing business to deliver First Class mail. Once that happens then the demise of the Postal Service is only moments away. UPS and FedEx would love to get their hands on mail delivery. Once it is out of the hands of the government then whoever owns it can adjust the rates based on the sending and delivery point. Then just try to get a First Class letter to some rural delivery box for the cost of a Forever Stamp.

Posted by: mehrenst1 | January 18, 2011 1:53 PM | Report abuse

As a nearly 32 year Letter Carrier, I believe those just sitting around on the clock need to be eliminated, or transfered to the Letter Carrier Craft to eliminate the excessive overtime we are being FORCED to work week in and week out!

Posted by: JLHoward1 | January 19, 2011 12:01 AM | Report abuse

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