Donald Trump thinks the postal service is in desperate need of reform but has pledged to “never let the Post Office fail.”
Earlier, Trump threatened to withhold federal loans if the postal service didn’t quadruple its rates. And he blames Amazon.com and other online retailers for the postal service’s financial woes.
“The Postal Service is a joke because they’re handing out packages for Amazon and other internet companies, and every time they put out a package, they lose money on it. So Amazon and other internet companies and delivery companies are dropping all of their — not all of them — but a big portion of packages into a post office, and the post office is supposed to deliver the packages, and they lose a lot of money,” the president told reporters in the White House during the signing of a bill funding the latest round of coronavirus stimulus.
Trump also said that if the service doesn’t raise fees, it won’t get any cash from a federal loan program to help the coronavirus-battered economy. “If they don’t raise the price, I’m not signing anything,” he said, referring to possible loans to the service.
But a few hours later, Trump appeared to do an about-face and said he would “never let our Post Office fail.”
I will never let our Post Office fail. It has been mismanaged for years, especially since the advent of the internet and modern-day technology. The people that work there are great, and we’re going to keep them happy, healthy, and well!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 24, 2020
Trump, like all presidents before him who have been frustrated with the USPS’s incompetent management and powerful union, is discovering what his predecessors reluctantly concluded as well: the government and people of the United States need the postal service.
Privatization, at least of the most profitable routes, is probably inevitable. But the USPS has far more wrong with it than not charging enough money to deliver letters and packages. Its business model simply doesn’t work. The idea was to lose money on the costly rural, sparsely populated routes and get it back by charging more for “business class” posts. But email destroyed that model and, to make matters worse, the postal service decided to compete with UPS, FedEx, and other private package delivery services. That failed too.
Trump is now dangling $10 billion in coronavirus relief funds in order to get the USPS to reform its practices and management structure.
The Washington Post on Thursday reported that the administration was considering using a $10 billion emergency loan as leverage to require the Postal Service to make changes to its structure and management.
Trump recently signed a law that allowed the service to borrow $10 billion from the Treasury Department, but it apparently won’t get the cash unless it plays ball with the president, the paper reported.
The Postal Service, which doesn’t use taxpayer money and gets its revenue from the fees it charges, has been slammed by the decline in mail caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Recent losses by the postal service have topped $13 billion so any funding by the government would be a stop-gap measure, at best. Some kind of long-term solution will need to be found before the whole rickety thing collapses in a heap of red ink.