Friday, September 21, 2012

McCaskill campaign: Claire's fighting for rural post offices; Todd Akin standing on sidelines

(From the Claire McCaskill for Senate campaign)

In today’s debate, the subject of saving rural post offices drew clear contrast between Claire’s successful efforts to save more than 100 of Missouri’s rural post offices from closure, and Todd Akin’s votes to undermine the service and implied support for privatizing the postal service entirely.

Post offices are a critical lifeline for Missouri’s rural communities, but Akin and House Republicans have repeatedly refused to act on legislation to keep their doors open, creating uncertainty and confusion for the families who rely on the postal service for Medicare and VA benefits.

“When Missouri’s rural post offices were on the chopping block, Claire fought to keep their doors open, but Todd Akin’s refusal to take action on behalf of the Postal Service would cut off rural Missourians from their life-saving medications and veterans benefits,” said Erik Dorey, McCaskill for Missouri spokesman. “Whether it’s a small town business's reliable shipping location or the deliverer of our seniors’ prescription drugs, Medicare and Social Security benefits, Todd Akin’s only solution is to shut down or privatize all government programs, and his agenda would hit Missouri’s rural families especially hard.”

Previously, Akin voiced support for plans to privatize the Postal Service, a position squarely in line with his approach toward other federal services that Missourians rely on -- like Social Security, Medicare and federally guaranteed student loans. Akin supports raising prices on postage to force consumers toward private mail carriers, but he offers no explanation for how rural communities that rely on reliable, low-cost delivery will cope with post office closures.

Earlier this year, Claire successfully attached an amendment to the 21st Century Postal Service Act of 2012 that imposed a one-year moratorium on closing rural post offices. This amendment saved jobs and made sure Missouri’s rural communities did not lose the crucial services provided to them by the postal service. Beyond the one-year moratorium, the McCaskill Amendment put in place strict guidelines for closing post offices that the Postal Service must abide by going forward to ensure that they are properly serving rural communities.  

Keeping the post offices open also saves precious jobs in rural communities that have been hit hard by the challenging economic climate. Small business owners who rely on timely delivery to properly run their business were assured that the stability they rely on from the Postal Service will remain intact.


Akin Implied Support for Privatizing Postal Service.  At the Greene County Lincoln Day debate in March 2012, Akin made clear he supports privatizing the Postal Service by raising prices to force consumers toward private companies. Akin said, “So the postal service, the problem is -- what the solution is basically do what you do in the business. You have to raise the price. And then if you raise the price enough and the people don’t use it, in this case it’s not a crisis because you’ve got all kinds of privately owned companies that are picking up the slack anyway.” [Akin at Greene County Lincoln Day debate, 3/3/12]

Akin Voted for an Amendment to the Postal Service Overhaul Bill That Would Have Undermined the Postal Service. In July 2005, Akin voted in favor of an amendment offered by Rep. Jeff Flake to the Postal Service Overhaul bill that would have undermined the Postal Service by allowing individual Postmasters to contract mail delivery services out to private contractors.  Specifically, the amendment would have created pilot programs for up to 20 communities to determine the feasibility of alternative mail delivery services. Communities would have to submit applications to the Postal Service proposing alternative postal service providers, the impact on consumers, the services providers would supply and the duration of the program, which could be up to five years.  Under the amendment, eligible alternative providers would include commercial enterprises, non-profit organizations and labor groups. [Vote 429, 7/26/05;, HR 22, House Amendment 516]

  • National League of Postmasters: Flake Amendment Would “Be Harmful to Universal Service.” According to the National League of Postmasters, the Flake amendment to the Postal Service Overhaul bill “would be harmful to universal service.” [Congressional Record, 109th Congress, Page H6541]

  • Rep. Waxman: Flake Amendment Is an “Open Invitation to Abuse.” Speaking on the floor of the House of Representatives, Rep. Henry Waxman described the Flake amendment as “an open invitation to abuse.”  “It allows a local postmaster to contract out the delivery of the mail to private companies; and in the course of that amendment, it provides that any provision of Federal law that might otherwise apply to these contracts and the delivery of mail can be waived,” explained Waxman. “Well, that is incredibly far-reaching. It would mean a local postal official could set up his own company. He can ask his brother-in-law to set up another company and then contract with that company to do the job of delivering the mail. It is certainly a blatant conflict of interest. But even criminal laws could be waived under this amendment. There would be no prohibition against under-the-table kickbacks. The provision could allow the waiver of the privacy of first-class mail. This could lead to a lot of unforeseen problems.” [Congressional Record, 109th Congress, Page H6541]

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