Buy a Stamp—Patch a Highway?
"Unusual as it may sound, possible savings from revamping the agency’s operations are on the table as one way to patch highway funding, said two Republican legislative aides with knowledge of the talks," write Angela Greiling Keane and Derek Wallbank for Bloomberg News.
Tapping savings from Postal Service changes is one of several ideas being considered to bolster the highway fund, the aides said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
And why shouldn't it be considered? President Obama's plan has the same amount of correlation to highway user fees (meaning none), the traditional source of funding since the Highway Trust Fund came into being with the 1956 Interstate Highway Act.
However, with Obama's plan - increasing taxes on multinational corporations' overseas earnings, there's real money to be gained, and lots of it, while the Post Office "lost $1.9 billion in the quarter ending March 31," according to Bloomberg.
The transportation bill, known as the MAP-21 Reauthorization Act, was approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works committee on May 15, but the "shortfall", the difference between current spending and gas tax receipts, estimated at $18 billion per year, has yet to be plugged.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has yet to take up this urgent matter, as MAP-21 expires at the end of September. More importantly, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has warned states that it will not be able to issue reimbursements for current projects come July as the Trust Fund is running low.
Reaction from the National Rural Letter Carriers Association was swift.
“Using an American institution to pay for the Highway Trust Fund is simply ludicrous,” said Jeanette Dwyer, president of the National Rural Letter Carriers Association. “The Postal Service is paid for by the American public by stamps for revenues. We do not take any taxpayer money.
So is raising the price of stamps, rather than the cost of gasoline, really going to be considered as a road funding option? On the bright side, we might expect to see a new generation of stamps with transportation themes.