Corruption & Lies: Trump & the Post Office

Corruption & Lies: Trump & the Post Office August 13, 2020

This is yet another story that infuriates me because Trump appears to be able to get away with outright and obvious corruption. I predicted some time ago that Trump would lose the election and try to call the validity into disrepute by attacking the mail-in ballots – a tactic that he has “telegraphed” for some time now. But it gets worse.

Trump recently attacked the Post Office for “losing money for decades” saying “it’s been losing vast amounts of money over the last number of decades” and so on (Trump himself lost a billion dollars in the 80s and 90s – more than any other person). The thing is, it made $9.3 billion profit from 2003-2006! Given that the postal service is in the Consitution, it is rather ironic that conservatives have been calling for it to be privatised for so long.

But why has it lost money since 2006? you ask. Well, in 2006, the Republicans under Bush made a rather unique and bizarre law forcing the USPS to pre-fund 75 years of pension and healthcare costs. You know, calculating the healthcare and pension costs of people who haven’t been born yet – something that no one else has to do.

This pre-funding requirement is the primary reason it is not making money. And it is the fault of the Republicans. It is worth remembering that, though it was designed to be self-sufficient, it is a government service. As the LA Times reports:

According to the Institute for Policy Studies, a Washington think tank, the mandate costs the USPS more than $4 billion a year. Without this burden, the institute says, “the Post Office would have reported operating profits in each of the last six years.” Instead, “This extraordinary mandate created a financial ‘crisis’ that has been used to justify harmful service cuts and even calls for postal privatization.”

Trump his sabotaging the USPS and thus the election, with the massive importance of mail-in ballots, with his corrupt ways.

  • Trump appointed Louis Dejoy, a huge campaign fundraiser for him to run the USPS and his wife is a nominee for Ambassador to Canada.
  • The newly Trump-appointed CEO is a former CEO of a logistics company who has anywhere between $30.1 million and $75.3 million invested in the USPS competitors or contractors. Yes, you read that right.
  • There’s even an unconfirmed report, via the Capitol Forum, that the Postal Service is contemplating charging states the full 55-cent first class rate to mail ballots to voters instead of the customary preferential 20-cent rate — tripling the cost of ballot mailings for states.
  • In 34 states, you don’t just have to have your absentee ballot postmarked by Election Day, it has to be received by Election Day.
  • In the Michigan primary, some people weren’t getting their ballot until literally the day before.
  • The Trump campaign sued the state of Nevada over its plan to send absentee ballots to all registered voters.
  • The state of Oregon has been doing mail-in voting for 19 years, by law — over 100 million ballots cast, and only 15 cases of voter fraud.
  • Trump has repeatedly alleged, without proof, that mail-in voting efforts are ripe for fraud and will cost him the White House when voters cast ballots.

The USPS is a huge unionised organisation that, as such, has long been a target of anti-union Republicans. Destroying it would be a thing of glee for the GOP. As the LA Times asked of DeJoy’s actions:

Let’s say you’re in charge of a mission-critical government agency facing an expected nationwide surge in demand in three months or less while struggling with an existing national emergency.

Would you:

—Institute a reduction of overtime and a hiring freeze while signaling your tolerance for slower delivery of crucial services to customers?

—Radically reorganize your operation, assigning new duties to inexperienced managers and removing the most experienced executives without explanation?

—Describe your actions as an “operational pivot” and pick fights with the very people you’re required to report to?

This extraordinary mandate created a financial ‘crisis’ that has been used to justify harmful service cuts and even calls for postal privatization.

INSTITUTE FOR POLICY STUDIES, SPEAKING OF THE MANDATE THAT THE U.S. POSTAL SERVICE PRE-FUND ITS RETIREE HEALTHCARE COSTS

No? Then you’re plainly not as qualified to run the U.S. Postal Service as Louis DeJoy, the millionaire political fundraiser bristling with conflicts of interest who has been placed in charge of the mail by President Trump.

DeJoy has taken over just as the postal service must gear up to handle a surge in vote-by-mail ballots filed by voters wary of reporting in person to their polling places because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Instead of focusing on what should be Job One, he’s performed as a one-man wrecking crew. Residents coast-to-coast have noticed that mail deliveries have gotten slower.

In a well-reported survey, Ellie Rushing of the Philadelphia Inquirer documented “some residents going upwards of three weeks without packages and letters, leaving them without medication, paychecks, and bills.”

Where’s the mail? It’s “piling up in offices, unscanned and unsorted” while overwhelmed postal workers make do without vacation replacements….

He has denied that his management changes have anything to do with hampering mail delivery before the election, but some of his moves are indistinguishable from steps one would take to hamstring the service. Most recently, he reshuffled more than 30 top officials, an action that inevitably will produce turmoil from top to bottom.

And if the Postal Service can’t adequately handle the election, it’s democracy that will pay the price.

To return to the service aspect of the USPS, and the idea that it has to serve all of the US, from the most remote postal address to the easiest. It is a service that services the US population no matter where they live. As The Hill states:

Sorting and transporting mail is an inherently costly proposition. USPS delivers mail to 157 million addresses and post office boxes in the nation (including Puerto Rico, the American Virgin Islands, etc.) It has 230,000 trucks and other vehicles to help it haul all that mail.

But that is not the whole of it. USPS also runs a massive retail operation in the form of 31,000 post offices and another 4,000 contractor-run mail shops, each with their own overhead costs.

It’s interesting that, with the defence budget in 2018 at $686.1 billion, Republicans don’t demand that the Pentagon is run like a business. The comparison of the USPS to its private counterparts is startling:

We already know how private mail services work. UPS and FedEx provide the necessary examples. To mail a first class letter — a birthday card to your grandmother, perhaps — costs 55 cents no matter where you live and where it’s going. The minimum charge from FedEx is $11 and at UPS $30.18, according to their websites.

Mailing an item in a U.S. Postal Service medium flat-rate box costs $15.05, anywhere in the U.S. At UPS it’s $30.81, and at FedEx $34.50. The Postal Service will carry its flat-rate large box (24 inches by 12 inches by 3 inches) anywhere in the U.S., from Key West, Fla., to Anchorage, for $21.10. The same box, carried from California to southern Michigan, will cost $36.59 on UPS and $34.50 in FedEx. But send it to Anchorage, and the price jumps to $49.39 on UPS and $52.81 on FedEx, according to their websites.

This is the aspect of universal mail service that Trump and his acolytes overlook. The Constitution placed the responsibility for the mail in the hands of the post office, purportedly at Benjamin Franklin’s urging, because the Founding Fathers saw it as a public service binding this disparate country into one.

As David Dayen, executive editor of The American Prospect and author of the book, “Monopolized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power.” stated in a podcast:

…absolutely, there’s an effort underway to delegitimize this election. It’s obviously going to take longer to count absentee and mail-in ballots than it would to count ballots that are cast at the polling places. And so, November 3rd, we’re not going to see the end of this election. And, you know, Trump is setting the stage for, on the night of November 3rd, whatever the count is, he can use that to potentially declare victory.

So, it’s a very dangerous situation. The public, I don’t think, is necessarily fully informed that this is going to be a long process, like we see here in my state of California, where it takes weeks to eventually count all of the ballots, and sometimes races change. That’s going to lead to cries of fraud and delegitimization. And it’s a very difficult situation.

The way is paved for Trump to delegitimize the election.

You’ve been warned.


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