It’s official. Passage of Congressman Mike Castle’s “Franked Mail Savings Act of 2001” is one of the top priorities this year of the National Taxpayer’s Union. That means that congressmen who votes against it will lose points with NTU, which rates congressional performance every session.
The franking privilege is one of the most flagrant abuses of taxpayer dollars that Congress engages in. As former House Press Secretary John Solomon admits, “the purpose of these mailings has become little more than to remind citizens of who their elected officials are before they vote. It’s an unfair perk of incumbency.” Only about 10 percent of franked mail is sent out in response to the mail of a constituent. Most of the time, it is nothing more than political advertising, a prepaid political benefit that comes at the expense of both taxpayers and fair electoral competition.
In 1999, individual postage limits for congressmen were lifted, making it easier than ever to abuse the franking privilege. Mr. Castle’s bill would define a “mass mailing” as being 250 pieces or more of mail. And it would prohibit such mailings within 180 days of general elections and 90 days of primaries. Of course, many other advantages of incumbency would remain untouched. But passing this bill would be a step in the right direction. Let’s see if our representatives do the right thing. Even if they don’t care what the National Taxpayers Union thinks, they should probably give a darn what the nation’s taxpayers think.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.