Trump Targets the Post Office — and the November Election

April 20th, 2020 - by & Jacob Bogage / The Washington Post & Mark Dimondstein / The Cap Times & AFL-CIO

Trump Targets the Post Office — the USPS Could Be Gone by August

 (April 19, 2020) —The US Postal Service could be dead in three months unless Congress provides emergency funding to shore up this crucial public service. 1

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and the Republicans are refusing to include the Postal Service in any coronavirus relief legislation, because privatizing mail delivery has been a long-term goal of the conservative movement, and they see this crisis as their opportunity to kill off the Postal Service once and for all. 2

Meanwhile, Donald Trump hates the Postal Service for his own sociopathic reason: The Postal Service delivers packages for Amazon, whose founder, Jeff Bezos, also owns The Washington Post, a newspaper that hasn’t been afraid to publish hard-hitting journalism on the Trump administration. 3 

So, in the middle of a global pandemic and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, Trump is threatening to bankrupt a critically important public service to exact revenge for his petty grievances. 4

Democrats are pushing hard to get emergency funding for the Postal Service included in the next coronavirus relief bill, and MoveOn is launching a digital ad campaign to demand that Trump and the Republicans stop blocking Postal Service relief funding. To make sure they can’t ignore us, we will run targeted ads in rural districts that would be hit hardest by the Postal Service shutdown — communities that Trump must win big to have any chance of re-election.

Help launch and sustain a digital ad campaign calling on Congress to include desperately needed aid to the United States Postal Service in the next stimulus package and to continue to fight to save the Post Office all the way until Election Day.

The death of the Postal Service would be a crushing blow to Americans desperately trying to get by while sheltering in place.

Rural communities might never bounce back without the guarantee of reliable, standard-rate mail service. Small businesses in rural communities that rely on mail-order customers would go bankrupt. And people who live in these communities would be unable to get the essential deliveries — including medicine — they count on the Postal Service to deliver. 5

The death of the Postal Service would also eliminate any kind of vote-by-mail program, disenfranchising millions of voters in November. And postal workers — 39% of whom are people of color — would be left jobless. 6

Most Americans don’t know it, but the Postal Service doesn’t receive a single taxpayer dollar. 7 It is entirely funded by revenue from the sales of stamps and postage. But just like so many other businesses, the Postal Service has seen its revenue collapse during this pandemic. As a result, the entire operation could go bust by September, according to the postmaster general and the postal workers union.

It’s especially tragic considering that postal workers, like doctors, nurses, and other essential workers, are getting sick and dying while working on the front lines of this pandemic to keep the rest of us afloat. 8

Just imagine what life would be like right now if the mail stopped coming or if the only way to send or receive mail was to pay FedEx rates. It would be devastating. But Trump can’t get over the fact that The Washington Post doesn’t give him nonstop positive coverage. And privatization of mail delivery would be a massive boon to his corporate donors—at the expense of everyday, working-people Americans.

The next coronavirus relief bill could get passed as early as next week, and funding for the Postal Service must be included in it. If MoveOn can raise $150,000 by Monday, we will be able to launch a digital ad campaign calling out Trump and McConnell for blocking this desperately needed funding.

Thanks for all you do.

– Kelly, Seth, Jenn, Lisa, and the rest of the team


1. “The Head of the Postal Workers Union Says the Postal Service Could Be Dead in Three Months,”  In These Times, April 16, 2020

2. “White House rejects bailout for US Postal Service battered by coronavirus,” The Washington Post, April 11, 2020

3. “Trump’s Vendetta Against Jeff Bezos Could Destroy the Postal Service,” Vanity Fair, April 13, 2020

4. “Coronavirus job losses could total 47 million, unemployment rate may hit 32 percent, Fed estimates,” NBC News, March 30, 2020

5. “If the US Postal Service fails, rural America will suffer the most,” Vox, April 16, 2020

6. “Workforce Diversity and Inclusiveness,” US Postal Service, accessed April 18, 2020

7. “The US Postal Service is Owned by the People — Let’s Keep it That Way,” AFL-CIO, April 23, 2019

8. “The US Postal Service Needs Help Now: ‘The Situation Is Absolutely Dire,'” New York Times, April 17, 2020

White House Rejects Bailout for US Postal Service Battered by Coronavirus

The pandemic has pushed USPS to the brink, but Trump and Mnuchin shot down emergency aid

Jacob Bogage / The Washington Post

 (April 11, 2020) — Through rain, sleet, hail, and even a pandemic, mail carriers serve every address in the United States, but the coronaviruscrisis is shaking the foundation of the US Postal Service in new and dire ways.

The Postal Service’s decades-long financial troubles have worsened dramatically, as the volume of the kind of mail that pays the agency’s bills — first-class and marketing mail — has withered during the pandemic. The USPS needs an infusion of money, and President Trump has blocked potential emergency funding for the agency that employs around 600,000 workers, repeating instead the false claim that higher rates for Internet shipping companies Amazon, FedEx and UPS would right the service’s budget.

Trump threatened to veto the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or Cares Act, if the legislation contained any money directed to bail out the postal agency, according to a senior Trump administration official and a congressional official who, like others in this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“We told them very clearly that the president was not going to sign the bill if [money for the Postal Service] was in it,” the Trump administration official said. “I don’t know if we used the v-bomb, but the president was not going to sign it, and we told them that.”

Instead, Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) added a last-minute $10 billion Treasury Department loan to the Cares Act to keep the agency on firmer ground through the spring of 2020, according to a Democratic committee aide.

Lawmakers originally agreed to a $13 billion direct grant the Postal Service would not have to repay. That effort was blocked by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who warned such a move could blow up the relief bill. A committee aide said Mnuchin told lawmakers during negotiations: “You can have a loan, or you can have nothing at all.”

Only the $10 billion loan to the Postal Service made it into law, over Mnuchin’s objections.

Without the loan, which awaits approval by the Treasury Department, the Postal Service would be “financially illiquid” by Sept. 30, according to estimates provided to lawmakers. Advocates for the Postal Service worry the agency is in a vulnerable position. As its main funding source dwindles, the Postal Service could be seen as ripe for a makeover; conservatives have long talked about privatizing the mail delivery in the United States.

The Postal Service projects it will lose $2 billion each month through the coronavirus recession while postal workers maintain the nationwide service of delivering essential mail and parcels, such as prescriptions, food and household necessities.

That work often comes at great personal risk. Nearly 500 postal workers have tested positive for the coronavirus and 462 others are presumptive positives, USPS leaders told lawmakers. Nineteen have died; more than 6,000 are in self-quarantine because of exposure.

While the Trump Administration and Mnuchin pushed through private-sector bailouts in the Cares Act — $350 billion to the Small Business Administration loan program, $29 billion to passenger airlines and air cargo carriers, and economic incentives for the construction, energy and life sciences industries, among others — Mnuchin has signaled any postal relief funds in a “Phase IV” stimulus package under negotiation would amount to a poison pill.

Postmaster General Megan Brennan asked lawmakers Thursday for another $50 billion — $25 billion to offset lost revenue from declining mail volume due to the coronavirus and $25 billion for “modernization” — plus another $25 billion Treasury loan and a mechanism to pay down $14 billion in existing public debt.

House Democrats, led by Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (Va.), cautioned that without the funding, the Postal Service may not make it past September without missing payrolls or service interruptions. Senate Republicans insist the $10 billion loan from the Cares Act provided sufficient short-term liquidity, the staffer said, and the Senate would not vote to extend more money to an agency unlikely to make good on its borrowing.

“I’m so frustrated at how difficult it has been for a long time to galvanize attention and action around an essential service,” Connolly said in a phone interview. “And maybe the pandemic forces us all to refocus on this service and how essential it is and how we need to fix it while we can before it gets into critical condition.”

Trump has long been antagonistic of the post office, calling it once in a tweet Amazon’s “delivery boy.” The Postal Service often serves as a vendor for Amazon, UPS, FedEx and other shipping companies, delivering the “last mile” service to often rural and remote areas. It is a crucial service for the Postal Service, for which package delivery is a growing part of its business.

Much of Trump’s invective on the Postal Service is aimed at Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos, who owns The Washington Post. Trump has advocated for increasing the prices on Amazon deliveries, against the recommendation of shipping experts and the agency’s own Board of Governors, a majority of whom Trump appointed.

“They should raise, they have to raise the prices to these companies that walk in and drop thousands of packages on the floor of the post office and say, ‘Deliver it,'” Trump said at a news conference Wednesday. “And they make money, but the post office gets killed. Okay? So they ought to do that, and we are looking into it, and we’ve been pushing them now for over a year.”

Raising rates too much would lead private-sector competitors to develop their own cheaper methods to deliver packages, said Lori Rectanus, director of physical infrastructure at the Government Accountability Office. Even if a rate increase generates revenue, that money would be marginal to the total Postal Service debt, almost all of which comes from a congressional requirement to prepay pension and retiree health care costs for all employees, even those who haven’t yet retired.

Under normal market conditions, the Postal Service nearly breaks even, save for the pension account debt, despite cratering volume on deliveries in recent years. In 2010, it delivered 77.6 billion items of first-class mail. In 2019, it delivered only 54.9 billion first-class items. The service handled 3.1 billion packages in 2010 and 6.2 billion in 2019, although processing packages doesn’t earn the agency as much revenue as first-class mail delivery.

The coronavirus has completely upended consumer behavior and the quantity of items in the mail. Volume in the first week of March declined 30 percent, postal agency officials told lawmakers. At the end of June, the agency projects volume to be down 50 percent, and it could lose $23 billion over the next 18 months.

“We are at a critical juncture in the life of the Postal Service,” Brennan, the postmaster general, said in a statement. “At a time when America needs the Postal Service more than ever, the reason we are so needed is having a devastating effect on our business.”

The Postal Service has faced financial troubles for more than a decade, as digital communication morphed and took off, giving lawmakers many opportunities to debate its future. The Postal Service is so foundational to the country that it is enumerated in the Constitution.

he agency’s troubles have renewed conservative conversations about structural changes that would force the Postal Service to act more like a corporation, with steps such as eliminating the prepaid pension requirement and easing its universal service obligation to deliver to every address in the United States, including ones so remote.

“If we’re concerned about the Postal Service and its workers,” said Romina Boccia, an economist at the right-leaning Heritage Foundation, “the best thing we can do is to free up the Postal Service to operate like a business so they can try to get back into the black.”

Josh Dawsey and Jeff Stein contributed to this report.

The US Postal Service is Owned by the People — Let’s Keep it That Way

Mark Dimondstein / The Cap Times & AFL-CIO

WASHINGTON (April 23, 2019) — As the tax deadline looms and millions scurry to get their forms sent on time, Tax Day is a good time to dispel the myth that the US Postal Service is funded by tax dollars.

In fact, the Postal Service receives zero tax dollars for its operations. Without taking a dime in taxes, the Postal Service maintains the lowest prices for mail services in the industrialized world and delivers to 159 million addresses, six — and now often seven — days a week — all funded by revenue from the sale of stamps and other postal products.

While private courier companies only deliver where a profit can be made, the public post office provides universal service to everyone, no matter age, wealth, race, who we are or where we live.

It is little wonder that the Postal Service, a public institution enshrined in the US Constitution and the crucial anchor of the growing e-commerce revolution, remains the most trusted federal agency. A recent Pew Research Center survey revealed that 88% of the population has a favorable view of the Postal Service, with the highest favorability ratings coming from young adults. Whether sending or receiving medicine, packages, greeting cards, letters, periodicals, catalogs or ballots, every person, household and business in this country is a postal customer.

Still, that persistent myth — that the Postal Service is a burden to taxpayers — is precisely the false narrative that led Congress to pass the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act. That act manufactured a financial crisis by compelling the Postal Service to pre-fund all retiree health care costs, 75 years into the future — for workers not even born yet. This mandate transferred postal revenues to the US Treasury and robbed the Postal Service of $5.6 billion a year over a 10-year period. No other company or agency faces, or could be expected to survive, such an onerous financial burden.

Adding to the absurdity is the fact that, prior to the 2006 law, the Postal Service had been reliably paying its annual retirement health benefit premiums on time.

Fast forward from 2006 to last year. Exactly one year ago, in April 2018—again using the guise of taxpayer protection—President Donald Trump established a postal task force to study Postal Service finances. However, before the task force even published its findings, the White House Office of Management and Budget in a June 2018 report on reforming government laid bare their goal of selling the Postal Service to the highest corporate bidder.

Postal privatization, if allowed to move forward, would surely enrich some Wall Street investors and a few powerful corporations. For the rest of us, it would result in diminished postal services and higher prices. This is exactly what happened when other nations, such as the United Kingdom, went down this path. Evidence of this can be seen in both the OMB report and the task force report that followed in December, which called for higher rates, cuts to service and lower wages and benefits for postal workers, all as a first step toward total privatization.

Other task force “solutions” include eliminating delivery days, slowing service speed, allowing anyone who pays a fee access to your secure and private mailbox, reducing door delivery, undermining the universal service obligation and piecemeal privatization that will all undermine the future of a vibrant public postal service.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Congress should simply fix the pre-funding fiasco they created in 2006. In addition, the Postal Service should provide an array of expanded services such as increased financial services and paycheck cashing, notary and various licensing services, internet access and electric automobile charging stations.

Everyone who sends and receives mail and packages has a stake in making sure that the US Postal Service remains owned by, and in the service of, the people. Ask your member of Congress to co-sponsor House Resolution 33 and Senate Resolution 99. Both resolutions oppose privatizing the Postal Service.

Let’s ensure that the postal eagle, symbolizing its public ownership, is never sacrificed on the altar of private profit and replaced by the vulture of corporate greed. The US Postal Service operates without tax dollars and provides a necessary and popular public service. Keep it — it’s yours.

This post originally appeared at The Cap Times. Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.