Trump Threatens Postal Service With Loss of Funds If It Doesn’t Quadruple Rates

Raises the rates or else! Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Donald Trump has had a long-running argument with the U.S. Postal Service over its package-delivery rates, believe it or not. The Washington Post reminds us of POTUS’s grievance and its apparent genesis:

Trump has railed for years against what he sees as mismanagement at the Postal Service, which has been battered by a decline in first-class mail in the Internet age — but which has found profitability with package delivery. The agency’s revenues have plunged about 30 percent during the coronavirus pandemic, though, as business mail has declined.

Trump and his allies have frequently claimed that higher package rates on Internet shipping companies — Amazon, in particular — could ease the Postal Service’s financial troubles. But the move could hurt the agency by artificially raising its prices above those of UPS and FedEx, analysts say.

Amazon, of course, is owned by Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Post, which, by some sort of Trump transitive, makes Amazon a purveyor of fake news and an enemy of the people.

Now, however, Trump is backing up his complaints with a threat:

President Trump said Friday he would not approve an emergency loan for the U.S. Postal Service if it did not immediately raise its prices for package delivery, confirming a recent Washington Post report that said he planned to exert more control over the agency.

“The Post Office is a joke,” Trump told reporters. “The Post Office should raise the price [of package delivery] four times.”

Trump recently signed a law that allowed the cash-strapped agency to borrow $10 billion from the Treasury Department. The Post has reported that the White House wants to force changes at the Postal Service as part of the terms of the loan.

In the middle of a pandemic, it would seem that there is a somewhat larger public interest in keeping the postal service operating at peak efficiency than in promoting the president’s vendetta against Jeff Bezos. And as Bloomberg notes, USPS is in trouble:

The coronavirus pandemic and resulting loss of mail volume is expected to increase the Postal Service’s net operating loss by more than $22 billion over the next 18 months, “threatening our ability to operate,” Postmaster General Megan Brennan said this month …

The latest and possibly most acute of the USPS’s financial crises over the years is emerging as the service is delivering 60 million stimulus checks during the coronavirus pandemic and is the primary means of conducting the 2020 Census. A fully functional Postal Service would also be essential in a broader move to use mail-in ballots for the upcoming 2020 national elections.

Maybe it’s that potential USPS complicity in the terrible (if undocumented) fraud associated with voting by mail that’s bugging Trump.

The unseemliness of the president’s threats against this legendary national institution seems to have occurred to him later, or so his assurances on Twitter suggest:

Assuming they quadruple their package-delivery rates.

Trump Threatens Postal Service With Loss of Funds