"By establishing this commission, the president has taken a big step in restoring public confidence and accountability in a postal system that, in some respects, has lost its way," commented Newspaper Association of America president and CEO John F. Sturm. "NAA has long been calling for the creation of such a commission to take a hard look at the service now and for the future, and we are encouraged by the president’s action today.
While anthrax and other security measures will be a focus for the new commission, it will also examine the system that has consistently passed along operations increases through to publishers. Postmaster general John Potter predicted on Nov. 6 that postal rates could remain flat for the next four years. That came from Potter’s speech to the postal service board of governors in which he disclosed that the U.S. Postal Service has been paying too much into a pension fund. A new financial analysis of payments dating to 1971 has revealed that the Postal Service could amass a balance of $243.6 billion in the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) fund. That’s more than the $172.6 billion needed. Sturm said that issue needs to be addressed.
"If the commission can get to the very foundation of USPS operations and find innovative, broad-based solutions to fix what’s not working, the commission can help build a viable postal system that’s relevant now and in the future," Sturm added. "Like all Americans, the newspaper industry, which spends close to $1 billion a year on postage, has a vested interest in a healthy, vibrant and well-run Postal Service that serves the best interests of businesses and individual citizens alike in a fair and non-discriminatory manner."
The Magazine Publishers of America also applauded Bush’s move. “We are gratified that President Bush has taken this critically important step toward postal reform-a course of action that we and other postal-dependent industries have strongly urged him to pursue," said Nina Link, President and CEO of MPA. "We look forward to participating in the Commission's work on behalf of America's magazine industry."
The bipartisan Commission will be co-chaired by Harry J. Pearce, chairman of Hughes Electronics Corp. and a longtime General Motors executive, and James A. Johnson, chairman of the board at the Brookings Institution and a former head of Fannie Mae. The President has set a deadline of July 31, 2003 for the Commission to complete its work. No current or former media executives are on the commission.