President Trump is Sabotaging the Post Office — Here’s How To Take Action
Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night has slowed the United States Postal Service (USPS) in its more than 200-year existence. But amid a Trump presidency and a global pandemic, one of the U.S. government’s oldest and most reliable institutions is taking a serious hit.
The USPS, which is a non-partisan governmental agency funded by sales rather than tax-payer dollars, has been in financial trouble for years. The agency, which employs more than 600,000 people, reported nearly $9 billion in losses last year. As the country entered lockdown in response to the Covid-19 crisis earlier this year, businesses sent less advertisements and bulk mail during shutdowns, and mail volume dropped dramatically. With this loss in revenue, the USPS estimated it would run out of money by the end of September.
President Trump has historically been unsupportive of the USPS, from attacking the agency for its package pricing to proposing a 2021 fiscal budget that includes $90 billion in cuts to USPS operations and workforce compensation over 10 years. In April, Trump called the agency “a joke” and refused to approve relief funding — when Congress passed the CARES Act in March, a $10 billion loan from the Treasury Department wasn’t made available to the USPS until July. On Thursday, Trump admitted that he was intentionally blocking government relief to the agency in an additional round of stimulus funding to discourage mail-in ballots in November’s elections.
Jeanette Senecal, Senior Director of Mission Impact for the League of Women Voters, is just one of many organizers calling on Congress to fully fund the USPS to support the influx of mail-in ballots. “We don’t want to see undermining the postal service’s ability to do its work, that really will deliver a serious blow to our democracy,” Senecal told Supermajority News.
As states move to expand mail-in voting for November’s presidential election, a debilitated postal service poses a serious concern. This week, Democrats have taken more aggressive steps on postal oversight. Here’s what’s happened so far:
- The USPS appeals to Congress for $89 billion. Democrats support the move, Republicans do not. President Trump refuses to sign a new bill that includes funding for the USPS.
- A $13 billion direct grant to USPS included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is blocked and replaced with a $10 billion loan.
- Louis DeJoy — a logistics executive, Trump campaign donor, and former finance chair for the Republican National Convention — is appointed Postmaster General. He succeeds Megan Brennan, whose 34-year career began as a letter carrier. DeJoy’s appointment has been applauded by conservatives who had long hoped to privatize the agency, and criticized by Democrats who view it as political patronage.
- DeJoy institutes new procedural guidelines described as “cost-cutting efforts.” According to The Washington Post, these changes included shutting down sorting machines earlier in the day, prohibiting overtime pay, and requiring letter carriers to avoid extra trips or late delivery by leaving mail behind. The new operations result in delayed mail delivery from two to seven days throughout the country.
- The USPS alerts 46 states and D.C. that “there is a significant risk that… ballots may be requested in a manner that is consistent with your election rules and returned promptly, and yet not be returned in time to be counted.”
- Congressional Democrats demand an investigation into DeJoy’s new initiatives.
- DeJoy announces reorganization of USPS leadership, the implementation of a hiring freeze, and a request for voluntary early retirements.
- Trump admits he opposes funding the USPS because it would help mail-in voting in November.
- CNN reports the USPS plans to remove hundreds of high-volume mail processing machines from facilities across the country.
- House Oversight Committee calls on Louis DeJoy and USPS Board of Governors Chairman Robert M. Duncan to testify at an August 24 emergency hearing on mail delays and concerns of interference.
- House confirms it will return from recess to consider USPS legislation.
While multiple USPS employees declined to comment on these events, USPS Senior Public Relations Representative Kim Frum said in an email to Supermajority News that the USPS “is developing a business plan to ensure that we will be financially stable and able to continue to provide dependable, affordable, safe and secure delivery of mail and packages to all Americans as a vital part of the nation’s critical infrastructure.” In addition to this plan, Frum said the agency is taking immediate steps to increase operational efficiency.
Why do we need the USPS?
As a service that delivers not only letters and packages but life-saving medications and important communications like census forms, paychecks, and ballots, the USPS is a crucial apolitical agency that connects every corner of America.
Millions of Americans rely on the postal service as an accessible and affordable option compared to private companies like UPS and Fedex. In fact, USPS is the only carrier to serve rural and remote communities and is especially important to minority groups, indigenous people, veterans and those that lack broadband access.
How could this affect voting?
With the November election quickly approaching and in-person voting posing a potential health risk, the USPS will play a more critical role than ever.
“We want to make sure that no voter should have to choose between their health and safety and exercising their constitutional right to vote because our government did not fully fund the mechanics that would support their choice from home,” Senecal said.
On top of blocking USPS funding, the president has also taken a strong stance in opposition of mail-in voting and believes the method will lead to fraudulent election results. These claims are wholly unsubstantiated. In fact, according to an analysis from News21, out of the billions of votes cast overall between 2000 and 2012, there were 491 cases of absentee ballot fraud.
“We have said consistently that voting by mail is every bit as secure as voting in person,” Matt Dietrich, Public Information Officer of the Illinois State Board of Elections, told Supermajority News. “I’m having to combat some misinformation now on social media…. What we’ve always said is that this is a secure system.”
Some Democrats are accusing the Trump administration of deliberately sabotaging the USPS ahead of the election. In reality, this would also hurt his own campaign, as Democrats aren’t alone in opting to vote by mail. A recent Pew Research poll found 49% of Republicans support universal voting by mail. This support leaps to nearly 70% in states where a substantial amount of the population already votes by mail.
“I don’t think (Trump) realizes that (vote-by-mail) is clearly a campaign strategy Republicans have deployed for years and years,” Amber McReynolds, CEO of The National Vote at Home Institute, told Supermajority News. “I don’t know that it benefits that campaign to destroy the post office. Think about who’s relying on the post office.”
What you can do
It’s more important than ever to be proactive about your ballot requests and submissions. According to Dietrich, the key this year is to take the time to plan your vote.
“Anyone who’s going to be inclined to vote by mail, make your decision now,” Dietrich said. “Get your application in so your ballot can get to you as soon as possible, and when you get it, get it back as soon as you can.”
Authorities advise mailing ballots at least 15 days before election day on November 3. All ballots must be postmarked no later than election day. To alleviate strain on USPS, pressure your state’s Board of Elections to allow mail ballot drop-box sites or curbside drop-off at your election authority office.
To continue to support the USPS, buy stamps and send mail — pre-order a sheet of these to celebrate the 19th amendment. Call your representatives to back USPS relief funds, and text “USPS” to 504-09 to sign petitions and voice your support.