The US Postal Service as an election football

I’m growing more and more annoyed at left-wing and progressive complaints that President Trump is trying to neuter the US Postal Service, in order to disrupt postal voting and “steal the election”.  (Right now, of course, anything and everything he does is painted as “stealing the election”.  I’m waiting for someone to insinuate that when he ties his shoelaces, he’s actually tying the election up in knots!)

Let’s remember that the current process of reforming the USPS began in April 2018, as CNBC reported at the time.  Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.

President Donald Trump on Thursday issued an executive order to set up a task force to study the United States Postal Service and recommend reforms.

. . .

The task force will evaluate the operations and finances of the USPS, the order said. That includes examining the postal service’s role in competitive markets, the state of its business model, workforce, operations, costs and pricing. The task force was ordered to look at the decline in mail volume and how that affects the USPS’ self-financing and the agency’s monopoly over letter delivery and mailboxes.

“The USPS is on an unsustainable financial path and must be restructured to prevent a taxpayer-funded bailout,” Trump said in the executive order.

The USPS has incurred ”$65 billion of cumulative losses since the 2007-2009 recession,” the document said. It added that the agency had been unable to make payments for its retiree health benefit obligations that “totaled more than $38 billion” at the end of fiscal 2017.

“It shall be the policy of my Administration that the United States postal system operate under a sustainable business model to provide necessary mail services to citizens and businesses, and to compete fairly in commercial markets,” Trump wrote.

There’s more at the link.

Any business running at those sorts of losses would have been forced into bankruptcy long ago.  USPS reforms were, and still are, vitally necessary from a business standpoint.  Anyone with a couple of working brain cells to rub together can see that.

As for the latest measures, Bloomberg reports (bold, underlined text is again my emphasis):

The U.S. Postal Service overhauled its organizational structure, as Democrats called for an investigation into whether the changes implemented by President Donald Trump’s postmaster general pose a threat to mail-in ballots for the November election.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Friday said the new structure, organized around three business units, will increase efficiency by reducing costs and boosting revenue.

. . .

Democrats … wrote Friday to the Postal Service’s inspector general asking for an investigation into staffing and policy changes implemented by DeJoy, a Republican donor appointed in May.

Democratic Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York, who also joined the letter, said Saturday in a statement that the operational changes at the Post Office were “inappropriate” so close to the election.

“The drastic changes to the Postal Service by an overtly partisan Postmaster General are another example of the president’s attempts to prevent millions of Americans from having their votes counted,” she said.

. . .

The Postal Service on Friday reported a quarterly net loss of $2.2 billion on revenue of $17.6 billion, compared to a net loss of $2.3 billion in the same period last year.

Again, more at the link.

I point out that the massive USPS losses reported since 2009 were largely incurred under a Democratic Party administration, which supervised it for eight out of the ten years prior to President Trump’s reform initiative in 2018.  At any time, measures could have been taken to solve the problem, but were not.  However, when a Republican president attempts to tackle the Augean stables of USPS deficits, suddenly his critics are screaming that it’s all about politics, not about efficiency.

If the USPS is now losing quarterly what it used to lose annually, that’s simply unsustainable.  The taxpayer can’t be expected to bail out deficits and arrears of that magnitude.  Things have got to change.  Reform has got to be implemented.

For the first time in a long time, the USPS is being run by a (very successful) businessman, rather than a bureaucratic or political apparatchik.  I wish Mr. DeJoy every success in what is by any standards a gargantuan endeavor.  He has to overcome not just years, but generations of bureaucratic and institutional inertia, and an entrenched trade union mentality among many of the Post Office’s workers.  It’s going to be extraordinarily difficult to overcome those obstacles.  I hope he succeeds in spite of them, because if he doesn’t, the USPS will soon collapse under the weight of its own maladministration and the consequences thereof.

Meanwhile, I think a lot of the progressive and far-left angst about USPS reforms is due to their wanting to use them as a convenient excuse if they don’t do as well in the November elections as they think they should.  Note, for example, what Common Dreams – a Democratic Party “talking points” organization that gives the lead to many other left-wing commenters and media – has to say.

Already under fire for recent policy changes at the USPS that mail carriers from within and outside critics have denounced as a sabotage effort to undermine the Postal Service broadly as well as disrupt efforts to carry out mail-in voting for November’s election amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the moves unveiled late Friday were viewed as an overt assault on democracy and a calculated opportunity to boost Republicans’ long-held dream of undercutting or privatizing the government-run mail service while also boosting their election prospects in the process.

“Another Friday night massacre by this administration—and this time dealing another devastating blow to our postal service,” said Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.) “The American people deserve answers and we’re going to keep fighting for them.”

. . .

Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, warned what occurred Friday is designed to weak the Postal Service, slow vote-by-mail, and disrupt the 2020 Census … Clarke said the administration’s intentions are clear: “DeJoy, a Trump donor with no experience inside the postal service, has been installed to cause chaos and disruption at a time when the timely delivery of mail could not be more critical.”

More at the link.

Not one word from Common Dreams about a quarterly USPS deficit running into multiple billions of dollars.  Not one word about deficits, inefficiencies and abuses running back not just years, but decades.  Not one word about the real, undeniable need for USPS reform – just bitter complaints that those reforms are actually a Republican plot to disrupt the election.  When I see that, I see attempts to manufacture an excuse for electoral failure, not honest, balanced reporting.

I doubt very much that the reforms implemented by Mr. DeJoy are politically motivated.  I’ve been in business myself, hold a Masters degree in management, and was a company director before I became a pastor.  When I look at what he’s doing, I see undeniable, basic business reality staring me in the face.  As far as the USPS goes, it’s reform, or collapse under the weight of accumulated inefficiencies – and collapse pretty darned soon, at that.

You’ll have to decide for yourselves who’s right about this.  For myself, I’m in no doubt at all.  I daresay Benjamin Franklin (the first US Postmaster-General) would approve of Mr. DeJoy’s reforms.



  1. It's been known since, well, Day 1 of the relationship between Amazon and the USPS that Amazon was basically using the US taxpayer to subsidize it's shipping. Thanks Obama Administration. Amazon wouldn't be able to provide free or reduced shipping of they were paying normal prices.

    I fully expect to see 'fair deals' like this to disappear rather quickly. I mean, if the US Gov can cancel grazing rights and raise prices on grazing rights without any real negativity, why not postal rates for companies like Amazon?

  2. As a branch of the US government and not a business, the USPS is not designed to make money but to provide a service. DOD, State, and all the other branches spend more than they take in, Treasury being the exemption.

    Now if you want it to be more efficient and customer friendly I'm all for that. Somebody needs to make the pension donation before this drags on any further.

    And please explain why the Postmaster General makes more money the POTUS?

  3. The Postmaster General position gets paid more because of the type of talent needed to run that bureaucratic monstrosity, which comes with all the headaches but none of the power and prestige of POTUS. Look at what any CEO of an equivalent size organization makes. Anyone wanting that job without sufficient competitive compensation isn't worth hiring.
    And just because the USPS isn't "designed" to make money doesn't mean it should be run so badly that it bleeds billions every year. How about breakeven? It's becoming a business that is becoming antiquated. Think what they lose every time an email is sent instead of a first class letter. The package/parcel business is marginal because entities like FedEx and UPS take the most lucrative deliveries and farm out the costly ones to the USPS, who acts as the designated sucker unable to refuse the jobs that don't even break even.

  4. Look to WHY the USPS continually operates in the red.* Look for WHO desires it be that way. There is all the answers you seek. This condition has been this way for decades.

    *Lack of 'for profit' status notwithstanding.

  5. I can almost see the USPS workers deciding to go out on strike and Trump doing to them what Reagan did to the Air Traffic Controllers when they struck. You can almost see AMTRAK coming in for a similar takeover and disruption of the longest corrupt transportation scheme in American history. Selling $10 frozen hamburgers and their food enterprise still loses hundreds of millions of dollars every year.

  6. @Beans

    The post office has a policy that if you deliver mail/packages to the local post office, presorted, they will add them to the postal deliveries at a rate much lower than if the post office has to move the packages around the country, sort them multiple times (for each stage in the process)

    The have these rates because the postal workers are going to travel their routes anyway, so the additional cost of delivering more packages on routes they are already going to be traveling is less than the amount they charge for it. The biggest costs to the post office are the sorting and long-distance transportation.

    Amazon has been taking advantage of this service that the post office offered before Amazon existed.

    If the post office raises the rates above what it would cost Amazon to deliver the packages themselves, then the post office will end up losing even more money.

  7. hold a Masters degree in management
    a company director
    a pastor
    served in military

    What a rich and varied life you've led Peter…

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