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Don’t let Trump starve the postal service to improve his reelection odds — or beat up on Jeff Bezos

The U.S. Post Office is just too important to be undone by a vengeful and shortsighted president.

Postmaster General Megan Brennan says that without a federal bailout, her agency will lose $22 billion over the next 18 months as a result of COVID-19-related expenses.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Established almost 250 years ago, the U.S. Postal Service has survived wars, economic depressions and civil unrest — only to possibly be undone by a vengeful and shortsighted president.

Donald Trump continues to signal he will do nothing to rescue the soon-to-be bankrupt postal service, which has been a key player in keeping stay-at-home Americans supplied and connected during the COVID-19 pandemic. He blocked the agency from receiving $13 billion as part of last month’s coronavirus stimulus package, and he has since made clear that he will sign off on nothing for the agency in future stimulus packages. Nor will he ease financial regulations that unnecessarily burden the agency.

And why would that be?

Because Trump is out to punish Amazon, the behemoth online retailer that — like the historic Chicago-based mail order houses Sears and Montgomery Ward — uses the mails to move its goods. Amazon is owned by Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post, which Trump despises.

And why else would that be?

Because Trump is opposed to proposals to allow all Americans to vote by mail in the Nov. 3 elections so as to avoid risky in-person voting during a pandemic. That, the president says, “doesn’t work out for Republicans.” A weakened or non-existent post office could favor his re-election chances.

And so Trump would starve out this venerable, $71 billion institution, though it remains a vital public service.

The postal service has been wracked by expenses and falling revenue due to COVID-19. It also has struggled for years under onerous pension funding requirements that are imposed on no other federal agency.

Postmaster General Megan Brennan says the agency will lose more than $22 billion over the next 18 months and as much as $54 billion “over the longer term.” Without a bailout, the postal service, he says, “will run out of cash this fiscal year.”

Congress and Senate: Stand up

The postal service has asked for $25 billion to offset COVID-19-related losses. The agency also seeks a $25 billion grant for “shovel-ready” modernization projects and $25 billion in unrestricted borrowing authority from Treasury.

We strongly urge Congress to include the postal service in the next round of stimulus funding. The GOP-controlled Senate should grow a backbone, stand up to Trump and deliver for an agency that has been delivering for Americans, rich or poor, since before the Revolution.

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