March 9, 2020
The one thing we can count on is continued uncertainty. The Postal Regulatory Commission will deliberate in private for an unknown period of time. The five Commissioners will read hundreds of pages submitted by customers, unions, business partners, suppliers, and employee organizations. They will receive reports from and confer with their staff to help consider their alternatives. The PRC will especially consider the chances that the U.S. Court of Appeals would be likely to overturn or remand some or all of its final order.
There is a school of thought that says the PRC is bound and determined to move forward with this proposal or something similar, perhaps without the universally panned performance-based pricing. The fact that Chairman Taub came back with something very similar two years after his first proposal was universally criticized feeds this point of view.
A ray of hope comes from the recent Carlson decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals that remanded the PRC decision to allow the 2019 10 percent stamp price increase in large part because it did not carefully consider all the objectives and factors in the postal law. That should give the PRC pause in moving forward with a decision based almost entirely on the singular financial stability objective.
In any case, the PRC could issue a final rule this summer and USPS could implement it 90 days later. Many assume they would wait for the annual price hike in January 2021, but we’re all guessing at this point.
One thing that is certain—the United States Postal Service brand continues to be diminished by this proposal and this process.