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Paper lobbyists block digitization of U.S. government

Obama administration wants to digitize the bureaucracy for all practical purposes.

With federal budgets under fire in Congress, the government’s move to the Internet has gained pace. An electronic payment, for instance, costs the government only 9 cents to process, compared with $1.25 for a paper check, the Treasury Department says.

At Treasury, which last year suspended most paper mailings for all but the very aged and those with “mental impairments,” officials estimate the shift will save $1 billion over 10 years. The move by the Social Security Administration in 2011 to stop mailing paper earnings statements to 150 million Americans is saving $72 million a year.

The paper industry of America, however, got alarmed at these savings.

The digital age has ravaged sales of envelopes, office paper, catalogues and pulp products, with industry analysts saying that demand for paper products dropped 5 percent on average in each of the past five years. Mills have closed, and thousands of employees have been laid off.

The manufacturers of paper and paper products have ganged up under the banner of “Consumers for Paper Options” and warning that putting government services online is creating hurdles for many Americans due to digital divide. And they are also winning to some extent. Lawmakers are always for sale in America. Washington Post reports.

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