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Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 01/18/2011

Postmaster general defends the 'Forever Stamp'

By Ed O'Keefe

The nation's top mailman says he'd like to meet with former House speaker Newt Gingrich to explain the U.S. Postal Service's use of Forever Stamps.

Forever Stamp
The Postal Service has sold nearly 30 billion Forever stamps since 2007. (AP)

Gingrich last week blasted the use of Forever Stamps, calling them a short-term fix to the mail agency's long-term financial problems that could result in billions of dollars in government assistance.

In a conversation Friday with reporters, Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe called the denomination-less stamps "a convenience for our customers."

"I think if we're asking customers to buy stamps and use postage, it's not only a convenience, it's a sign of respect for people. Why make them get in line to buy 2-cent stamps?" Donahoe said.

In fairness, Gingrich did agree last week that Forever denominations are convenient to customers for when stamp prices increase.

Donahoe, who officially took over USPS last week, said Gingrich, a noted history buff, should also appreciate that Forever denominations are being put on the Postal Service's commemorative stamps.

"There's a lot of people who learn the history of the United States on stamps," Donahoe said. "Putting Forever denominations on the historic stamps keeps them in the system."

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

By Ed O'Keefe  | January 18, 2011; 10:30 AM ET
Categories:  Postal Service  
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Comments

Forever stamps are an ingenious marketing move and a serious convenience to customers. Is there anything Gingrich doesn't have a negative, smart aleck opinion about?

Posted by: peggyjohnsonmusic | January 18, 2011 11:10 AM | Report abuse

newt lighten up. how about focusing on getting our troops out of the crapholes?

Posted by: pofinpa | January 18, 2011 11:16 AM | Report abuse

I send more greeting cards now that there are "Forever" stamps and I don't have to worry about them becoming obsolete.

Posted by: Erasma | January 18, 2011 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Key word being FORMER Speaker of the House.

Who cares what he says now a days?

Posted by: Krazijoe | January 18, 2011 11:24 AM | Report abuse

I think the Post Office probably saves money on Forever stamps by not clogging the lines at the post office with people that need to by 1 or 2 cent stamps to allow them to use the rest of the stamps in their last book at the old price.

Posted by: tomvoith | January 18, 2011 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Forever stamps are a great convenience...no more buying those 1-cent/2-cent/etc stamps to make up additional postage when new rates are announced. Also, will buy more stamps for future usage knowing that they are good forever. What an innovative idea!

Posted by: brt1eye | January 18, 2011 11:25 AM | Report abuse

I love the forever stamp and think it is a great convenience. But come on, using a stamp to teach American history? What is he smoking?

Posted by: pzjagd1 | January 18, 2011 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I send a lot less snail-mail these days, so when the price of postage goes up it's a HUGE convenience to have 'forever stamps.'

And seriously, what's up Newt's ass? Is this a desperate ploy to stay relevant? Bizarre behavior.

Posted by: MockingbirdGirl | January 18, 2011 11:30 AM | Report abuse


The last time I used a stamp was about 5 years ago.

Who cares?

Posted by: kenk33 | January 18, 2011 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Why do we ask Newt's opinion on anything? He's no longer speaker. He holds no position in the federal government. His opinion is no more worthy than the opinions of private citizens not named "Newt Gingrich."

Anyway, I like Forever Stamps. I only use them a couple times a year, so it wouldn't make sense for me to buy rolls of regular stamps. Every now and then I replenish my Forever Stamps set, and it works fine. If Newty-Newt's so concerned about the USPS's fiscal health, why doesn't he look into charging FedEx and UPS more than private citizens to use USPS? After all, private carriers are USPS's biggest customers, because USPS goes places that FedEx and UPS don't.

Posted by: dkp01 | January 18, 2011 12:05 PM | Report abuse

I love it, and there has to be some money saved and convenience for the post office in that they don't have to deal with printing costs for tons of 1, 2 , 3 ,4 and 5 cent stamps!

Posted by: job22 | January 18, 2011 12:09 PM | Report abuse

In his remonstrations, one must understand that Gingrich is the right reverend of the Prophet..

Posted by: peterroach | January 18, 2011 12:28 PM | Report abuse

"She's a Witch!"

"How do you know she's a witch?"

"She turned me into a mean-spirited Newt!"

No, Newt, that's just you.

Posted by: lonquest | January 18, 2011 12:44 PM | Report abuse

As POs get rid of vending machines (easiest place to get low denom stamps back in the day), getting in line for them becomes more onerous, so the forever stamps are a great idea as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by: HardyW | January 18, 2011 12:46 PM | Report abuse


99.9% of postal customers do not buy a life time supply of stamps. What it does save are manhours (both direct and indirect) costs it takes because of people need to wait in line to buy 2 cent stamps.

What the post office should do is take this a step further...

The standard postal rate covers up to one ounce...then there is an added fee for 1-2 oz, another added fee for 2-3 ounces that is the same value as 1-2 ounce increase, and so on...this value right now is set at 17 cents I believe.

What they should do is change the postal structure where the post card stamp price which is now 28 cents....so the post card stamp can be used as the step increas stample for 1-2 oz mail.

This brings it down to just 2 kind of stamps most will ever need. Right now they have 44, 17, and 28 cent stamps...and then some have the higher value ones like a 78 cent stamp which would cover the cost of mailing out 8x11/9x12 envelopes.


Posted by: djp98374 | January 18, 2011 12:49 PM | Report abuse

The forever stamp is a Contract with America. This stamp will mail a letter at purchased price. It's a guarantee. What does Newt GottenRICH know about guaranteeing a contract. It's about HONOR, and GottenRICH knows nothing about HONOR.

Posted by: bigedpape | January 18, 2011 12:52 PM | Report abuse

READ THE GINGRICH ARTICLE PEOPLE!!

People aren't "blasting the USPS" because of Forever Stamps, they are blasting the USPS because the entity is running a ponci scheme with its budget sucking down federal tax dollars.

Instead of coming out with proposals to fix its budget and ridiculous pensions/retiree benefits, it acts in denial and dances around with Forever Stamps.

Every year for the past 20 years the country has been waiting for the USPS and the USPS union to fix its issues. And BTW, fixing the real issue does not mean jacking up the price of stamps while jacking down the amount of services provided.

If the USPS doesn't start focusing on sorting/delivering mail it will soon look like a taxpayer-funded Retiree & Healthare provider. And for that it will get taken to court.

Posted by: SamRon1 | January 18, 2011 1:00 PM | Report abuse

The forever stamp was needed because of the refusal of the post office to put a VALUE on the stamps. I personally was tired of finding stamps in the drawer with no value noted, just "first class" and some series letter. If a stamp implies it is postage for a first class letter delivery than that is what it should be good for, forever! Go back to a stamp worth a value then maybe we can talk.

Posted by: jojoranting | January 18, 2011 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Don't waste time listening to Newt giving postal advice. I like the Forever stamp idea.

Posted by: scottandrewtaylor | January 18, 2011 1:10 PM | Report abuse

I think it's funny that when a government corporation uses private market/business ideas it gets slammed by the GOP as being wasteful. Being wasteful is treating your customers like garbage and making them stand in line to buy 2 cent stamps. These guys never shut up. As long as they're criticizing someone for some perceived fault then they have something to say. What a boob.

Posted by: am1968 | January 18, 2011 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Who cares what that bloated windbag thinks? Maybe he wishes he was back in Congress, where he could use the mails for free! No way, Newt. We saw what you were capable of when you were Speaker. We're not going down that road again. Stay in your think tank, producing that gibberish. You're already in history's dustbin.

Posted by: flyfisher2 | January 18, 2011 1:18 PM | Report abuse

My problem with printing only the forever stamps is that they cannot be used for international mail. I send several Christmas cards and some post cards to friends and relatives overseas. The odd amount stamps get used, and the recipients enjoy getting different designs. This way, I still have to stand in line in order to get special stamps for international mailing.

What Newt Gingrich has to do with postage, I have no idea.

Posted by: magicdomino | January 18, 2011 1:22 PM | Report abuse

I like the convenience of the forever stamps but worry that they are targets for fraud. The North Koreans are suspected to be master counterfeiters, including copying our currency. For all intents and purposes, stamps are currency. How easy would it be you counterfeit a $44 coil of stamps?

If USPS wants to save itself, it should be bold and go to delivering mail three days a week and cut overhead in half. Full time drivers could have two routes: M-W-F, and T-R-S, with special delivery trucks. Judging from the fact that most mail is junk, solicitations, political, etc., most folks won't miss it.

Posted by: MadElephant | January 18, 2011 1:23 PM | Report abuse

What does Gingrich have to do with anything in the Federal government? He is not an elected official but a scrungy lobbyist. It's time the Democrats told him to get lost.

Posted by: pkbishop1 | January 18, 2011 1:25 PM | Report abuse

I like the convenience of the forever stamps but worry that they are targets for fraud. The North Koreans are suspected to be master counterfeiters, including copying our currency. For all intents and purposes, stamps are currency. How easy would it be you counterfeit a $44 coil of stamps?

If USPS wants to save itself, it should be bold and go to delivering mail three days a week and cut overhead in half. Full time drivers could have two routes: M-W-F, and T-R-S, with special delivery trucks. Judging from the fact that most mail is junk, solicitations, political, etc., most folks won't miss it.

Posted by: MadElephant | January 18, 2011 1:25 PM | Report abuse

The Forever stamp is the best thing the Post Office has done in years. It saves us a lot of trouble, it saves them a lot of trouble, and it shows that they are trying to innovate.

Gingrich, on the other hand, is trying to show he's not an irrelevant has-been. Better luck with his next target ...

Posted by: pilgrim1629 | January 18, 2011 1:44 PM | Report abuse

There is a plus side to the Forever Stamp for the Postal Service. Since it is "Forever" people will buy a book and essentially give the Postal Service an interest free loan of the money. If the denomination is fixed people buy fewer or only when they need a stamp.

In addition, one has to wonder just how many partially used booklets of Forever Stamps are either floating around, never to be used, or have been discarded.

Sorry Newtster, the Forever Stamp is good business.

Posted by: mehrenst1 | January 18, 2011 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Ok, Newt - here's a question.

Which is more economical?

Stand in line to buy four 2c stamps from a clerk. Post office to maintain an inventory of 1c or 2c stamps, which, I believe costs more to make than 1c or 2c overall...

OR

Have people buy a bunch of FOREVER stamps to keep in the drawer and usable whenever. Avoid redesign of "everyday" stamps at each postal increase.

Do the math, and do us a favor. Please don't run in 2012. You're an idiot.

Posted by: MichelleKinPA | January 18, 2011 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Newt's apparently been out of the public eye too long - now he's pontificating about stamps.

Seems to be longing for a 'Forever Speaker' position.

Posted by: MidwaySailor76 | January 18, 2011 1:51 PM | 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 1:54 PM | Report abuse

this must be a real thorn in Newts side....stamps! get a life. so easy to criticize when you personally have no responsibility or accountability, of which he has none

Posted by: rmk1122 | January 18, 2011 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Gingrich ... flapping his lips again because Palin's still getting attention.

Gingrich ... Iraq ... $4 billion a week .... flap on that will ya!

Posted by: knjincvc | January 18, 2011 1:56 PM | Report abuse

I like the convenience of the forever stamps but worry that they are targets for fraud. The North Koreans are suspected to be master counterfeiters, including copying our currency. For all intents and purposes, stamps are currency. How easy would it be you counterfeit a $44 coil of stamps?

If USPS wants to save itself, it should be bold and go to delivering mail three days a week and cut overhead in half. Full time drivers could have two routes: M-W-F, and T-R-S, with special delivery trucks. Judging from the fact that most mail is junk, solicitations, political, etc., most folks won't miss it.

Posted by: MadElephant | January 18, 2011 1:23 PM
_______________________________________

Stamps aren't worth the trouble. The redesign of all higher denomination bills is to prevent what is known as "raising" of a denomination. Bleaching the bill to remove ink, and printing another higher denomination over it. That results in potentially a 1900% increase in actual value.

Let's not forget that they then have to "mail" something. Otherwise, who buys postage from anywhere other than the PO?

When was the last time someone came up to you on the street and said: "PSSST, hey buddy, wanna buy some stamps?"

I do agree that hours should be cut. Perhaps on Wednesday. Those working during the week would still be able to hit the PO on that day. You might be able to stop deliveries on that day, though.

Posted by: MichelleKinPA | January 18, 2011 1:58 PM | Report abuse

mehrenst1 posts January 18, 2011 1:54 PM

"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."

FedEx and UPS do not want to deliver letters door to door like the USPS does or the mountains of advertising the USPS handles.

Posted by: knjincvc | January 18, 2011 2:01 PM | Report abuse

The Forever stamp is extremely convenient and it's also sound financial management for the Post Office. They're getting paid today for a hamburger on Tuesday. I guess Newt's a history professor, not an econ professor.

Posted by: SHLL | January 18, 2011 2:04 PM | Report abuse

I'm a go with the Forever stamp. It's the Saturday delivery that needs to be buried.

Posted by: JAH3 | January 18, 2011 2:05 PM | Report abuse

"Forever" stamps are a recognition of the fact that when I buy a stamp, it is not the paper object I am buying but the service it represents. I should be entitled to that service whenever I decide to use the stamp (unless it has an expiration date affixed to it at the time of purchase). This is long overdue.

Posted by: Meridian1 | January 18, 2011 2:46 PM | Report abuse

I like the Forever stamps and think Newt Gingrich is a moron.

Posted by: solsticebelle | January 18, 2011 2:52 PM | Report abuse

What people are forgetting, of course, is that if/when individual stamp prices increase, it will be easy for a select few organizations to buy a huge supply at the current price, and then sending mail at a lower than new-cost price. Will that happen a lot? If I had a business, I'd plan make it a business expense and definitely would buy a large amount of stamps.

That said, I agree it's a good idea in that most people will have a small number of stamps tha they don't have to worry about stamps being out-dated.

Posted by: Dungarees2 | January 18, 2011 2:56 PM | Report abuse

What people are forgetting, of course, is that if/when individual stamp prices increase, it will be easy for a select few organizations to buy a huge supply at the current price, and then sending mail at a lower than new-cost price. Will that happen a lot? If I had a business, I'd plan make it a business expense and definitely would buy a large amount of stamps.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Great idea except for the fact that bulk rate is significantly lower than the first class rate. So businesses that do large scale mailings will always get hit by a postage increase since the new bulk rate will still be lower than the old first class rate.

Posted by: Rob63 | January 18, 2011 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Bailing out the Titanic with a thimble. The vast majority of people who still care whether USPS continues consist of junk mailers, who ..... don't use stamps. An uncomfortable fact that gets mentioned as infrequently as possible: the Internet put paid to snail mail years ago. So long ago that even my mother-in-law has blown off standard e-messaging for hypertext.

Posted by: jbksss | January 18, 2011 3:25 PM | Report abuse

I guess I have to be the sole person who doesn't like all stamps being labeled "Forever". As a collector, if you see a 20-cent stamp or a 22-cent stamp, you immediately know from what era it was. Now, since everything's going to be labeled "Forever", you won't know for certain when it was printed.

I do have to differ with the person who said that by buying a stamp, you are buying a guaranteed service. No, you were just buying 44 cents of postage. If you buy something today at the store for a dollar and take it back next week when the price went up to $1.10, you're still going to just get a dollar back, because that's all you paid for it.

Posted by: rah1962 | January 18, 2011 3:34 PM | Report abuse

What I'd like to know is what happens to the Post Office's stockpile of stamps at the old price when the price goes up. Does the Post Office destroy them? If so, then making all postage Forever stamps is a money-saving move!

Posted by: PubPeople | January 18, 2011 3:35 PM | Report abuse

1. I use a Pitney-Bowes Machine- Love it. It's open and works 24/7, it never takes a day off, calls in sick and sits right next to me.

2. The USPS just put the screws to those who send over-size or 1.6 oz Christmas Cards, by hiking the rate of additional postage.

3. The question everybody should be asking is, if there has been no increase in the CPI for SSA recipents, how can the USPS justify a rate increase?

4. Customer service at my post office has been cut back to the hours of 10-5 M-F and 9-2 on Saturdays. Banks keep longer hours.

The USPS needs a paradigm shift to cut the postage rates, not increase them. There has to be a way, considering that a substantial amount of the "touch labor" for mail has been replaced by automation.

Posted by: Computer_Forensics_Expert_Computer_Expert_Witness | January 18, 2011 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Can we PLEASE put a forever stamp on Newt and mail him off. That is one piece of mail I hope gets lost!

Posted by: VAINDPENDENT | January 18, 2011 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Forever stamps also have a way of lulling the public about what the cost of stamp is, and how often it has gone up, up, up. If you don' see it rising on the stamp from 42, to 44, maybe to 46 soon...then you tend not to pay attention that you are getting ripped off again and again.

Posted by: nadinem | January 18, 2011 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Newt seems to testing his chops for a political campaign in 2012. Rant away, Newt, rant away.

Posted by: dnickell | January 18, 2011 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Go get 'em brother Pat! What do you expect anyway, from a person named "Newt" who hasn't penned his own letter in over two decades and thinks ya still gotta lick stamps?

- Guy Nohrenberg
Confessions of a Former Station Manager

Posted by: Tindad | January 18, 2011 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps the solution is to increase the price of "Forever" by a penny. Those who want to can spend the extra penny and not worry about future price increases for first class postage. Those who do not will purchase first class stamps for whatever the current price is, always a penny less. Postal Service will have more revenue as a result without additional expenses other than reprograming cash registers.

Posted by: hopeusa | January 18, 2011 11:38 PM | Report abuse

A better idea is to put an expiration year on them- "good through 2014 or until price rises above 50c", for example.

Posted by: staticvars | January 18, 2011 11:39 PM | Report abuse

Who still uses stamps?

Posted by: getjiggly1 | January 19, 2011 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Forget newt and the forever stamp. The post office is a dinosaur which has been mismanaged at the top for so many years that it is beyond repair. Knuckleheads like jack potter fought as a union guy for ridiculous perks, then as postmaster remained beholden to the unions. Most of the folks promoted from within the organization do not posses the brain power to run such a complex organization. The government will ultimately have to come to the rescue. Sadly, the whole organization also suffers from huge amounts of fraud, waste, and abuse and their OIG is powerless to do anything about it.

Posted by: ratss | January 19, 2011 7:43 PM | Report abuse

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