Congressman Tom MacArthur Upset With U.S. Postal Service

Consolidation Helps USPS Budget But Hurts Troops and Nonprofits
Feb 21, 2018
File Photo by: Jack Reynolds Congressman Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.-3rd) at an event in Waretown last year.

The United States Postal Service can’t win for losing. If most other governmental organizations or private businesses were to consolidate service locations when facing budgetary constrictions, they’d be praised for their frugality and management skills. But when the Post Office tries to cut waste or services, Congress goes nuts.

In 2011, for example, the USPS announced a plan to close approximately 3,700 small post offices around the country. Representatives in Congress with such post offices in their districts protested; the Senate passed a bill that would have required the USPS to keep post offices farther than 10 miles from the nearest other office open. The pressure forced the USPS to dramatically modify its plan despite being strapped for cash (as in multi-billion-dollar annual deficits). The major reason for the Post Office being in the red at the end of every year is  because of Congress legally requiring it to pre-fund health benefits for future retirees at a cost of roughly $5.5 billion a year, something no other public agency does. Toss in a significant drop-off in the volume of first class mail due to email and online bill paying, and it is easy to see why the USPS looks for ways to save money.

Now the Postal Service is under attack again.

The USPS teams up with the U.S. Department of Defense to deliver mail and packages to members of our military, and their families, serving overseas or on the seas. The USPS handles the mail while it is in the U.S. and an extension of the USPS, the Military Postal Service Agency (MPSA), takes over from there. The exchange of mail and packages between the former and the latter used to take place at five military mail-processing centers throughout the country, but those centers were recently consolidated into one, located in Chicago. A money saver to be sure, so why isn’t the consolidation popular?

The problem is that many nonprofit groups that send military care packages to troops serving abroad now have to mail them to Illinois instead of closer locations. For example, Yellow Ribbon of South Jersey, a Marlton-based nonprofit that collects, packages and ships tons of goodies to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan (5,114 pounds in 164 packages so far in 2018), expects to have to pay twice as much in postage as it used to when mailing packages to New York. That’s a 100 percent increase, one that Yellow Ribbon of South Jersey and other Northeastern nonprofits that support the troops can ill afford.

So Congressman Tom MacArthur, who represents New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District, which includes Marlton and much of Burlington and Ocean counties including all of Barnegat and the western half of Stafford Township, soon weighed in with a scathing letter to Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan.

“I am contacting you regarding recent changes to postal rates that have negatively impacted nonprofits that provide care packages to our service members deployed abroad,” the letter began. “These changes have resulted in devastating increases to postal charges for care packages that will severely limit the number of shipments these great organizations will be able to send out. …

“Some nonprofits, such as Operation Yellow Ribbon of South Jersey, will see a drastic increase in postage costs that will severely limit the number of packages they can afford to ship. As you can imagine, these care packages provide much needed basic comforts and a morale boost to our service members. As you know, care packages let the men and women of our Armed Forces know that the civilian population here at home is keeping them in our thoughts and prayers.

“These nonprofits understand the need to periodically adjust postage rates in order to maintain the fiscal health of the USPS. However, significant increases such as this, without advanced notice, have harmed their ability to provide this valuable service to the members of our Armed Forces.

“As such, I ask that USPS reverse these rate changes, so that nonprofit organizations can continue their efforts to support our military overseas. I expect a prompt response which rectifies this undue burden. Additionally, I will be requesting the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform investigate this increase and the impact it is having on those who work to support our service members.”

The same day that MacArthur wrote Postmaster General Brennan, he shot off a letter to Trey Gowdy and Elijah E. Cummings, respectively the chairman and ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, siccing them on the USPS.

USPS spokesman Ray Daiutolo said the consolidation of military mail centers was necessary to reduce costs. He suggested families and nonprofits take advantage of the Postal Service’s “flat-rate” boxes. Critics said such boxes aren’t an acceptable alternative because they are simply too small to accommodate the amount of goods groups such as Operation Yellow Ribbon of South Jersey ship out. In 2017, the group sent more than 62,000 pounds of care packages, costing it $55,000 in postage. If it can’t raise the more than $100,000 needed to ship its packages in 2018, it will simply have to send American troops less.

State Sen. Dawn Marie Addiego and Assemblymen Joe Howarth and Ryan Peters, all Burlington County Republicans who represent New Jersey’s 8th Legislative District, also are upset with the USPS. They’ve had a personal relationship with Operation Yellow Ribbon of South Jersey, allowing their district offices to be used as a drop-off point for the nonprofit, so they have launched an online petition at, hoping to convince the Post Office to reverse its decision.

— Rick Mellerup

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