Congress, the master of doublespeak, is at it again, this time on the Senate side. Even though the Senate has severely criticized the House for overspending its franking allocation this year, the Senate is trying to increase its own postal spending by 50 percent - at the expense of the taxpayer, of course.
The Senate Rules and Administration Committee, in an ironic but false effort to conjure up the Constitutional Convention of 1787, approved the resolution on mass mailings that takes from the small states and gives to the big.Sen. Wendell H. Ford, D-Ky., and Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, co-authored the resolution that would allot every senator an amount based upon the cost of one mass mailing to each constituent address.
Currently, the Senate provides at least $100,000 for all states. Even though large states get more money, thinly populated states can send as many as three mailings per constituent, while larger states often cannot send even one mailing to every constituent.
The new plan proposes a budget for Senate mail of $35.5 million for fiscal year 1991, up from the $24 million allocated for this year. It would also allow senators to stockpile mailings in non-election years and send out more in an election year.
Members of Congress must still appropriate these funds, and they should take a close look at themselves and their images when they do. Considering the fact that most congressional mailings are heavily geared to partisan purposes - and considering the fact that new taxes are being contemplated to help control the galloping deficit, it is impossible to justify the increase.
To appropriate these funds would represent the worst sort of hypocrisy at a time when budgetary restraint is a necessity. It is time for Congress to realize that the country is counting on it to set aside partisanship and allocate funds with the mark of statesmanship.