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20 December 2011

Repudiation: Right Wing Panic Over Loss of Holiday Franking

The American Family Association is upset that Representatives are no longer allowed to send Christmas greetings to their constituents at taxpayer expense.
According to a Dec. 12 memo from the House Franking Commission, members of the House are not allowed to wish voters a "Merry Christmas" or "Happy New Year" in mail and e-mails. Taxpayer dollars fund the postage when congressmen use their franking privileges to send mail to voters throughout the year. However, the six-member bipartisan group, officially known as the Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards, has told legislators that "Merry Christmas" is strictly prohibited.
The Washington Examiner published the text of the memo which said in part
Member’s Congressional Handbook: GREETINGS-
Expenses related to the purchase or distribution of greetings, including holiday celebrations, condolences, and congratulations for personal distinctions (wedding anniversaries, birthdays, etc.), are not reimbursable.”
Franking Manual:
4(a). Example of Nonfrankable Items
-Birthday, anniversary, wedding, birth, retirement or condolence messages and holiday greetings are prohibited.”
You may make reference to the season as a whole using language along the lines of 'Have a safe and happy holiday season.' It may only be incidental to the piece rather than the primary purpose of the communication."
Clearly Christmas has been singled out and is under attack ... or not.  The Hill notes that this rule has been in effect since 1974.  But that won't slow down the ire of the folks at the Free Republic, Bill O'Reilly on Fox, the Republican Party of Milwaukee WI, the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormon), and many more out on the blogosphere.

The House of Representatives Franking Manual is seventy-two pages long and was last updated thirteen years ago.  The conservatives want to spend tax money on frivolous mail.  Better would be to encourage electronic communications which costs far less to the taxpayers.  Here is a simple example of how that might work.

Merry Christmas!

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