Further Evidence of a Post Office Coup d’Etat
It’s painfully obvious that Trump is trying to steal this election.
I cannot imagine a more crucial time when Americans depended on their post office. With an invisible, highly contagious virus forcing millions of Americans to stay close to home, the reliable flow of cards and letters from loved ones, checks and essential food and medicine are a lifeline that only one entity is uniquely qualified to render.
The United States Postal Service is the most trusted federal office in America, with an approval rating of 90%. Our founding fathers made good on their promise that the steadfast delivery of information would be a cornerstone of our democracy.
In 1775, the Continental Congress instructed Benjamin Franklin to fashion a postal delivery system for the 13 colonies. At the dawn of our nation, President Washington and James Madison secured Congress’s approval for a national system of post offices and postal roads. Home delivery began during and after the Civil War. President Lincoln preferred letter carriers to be wounded war veterans, who were grateful for the work.
As the New York Times put it, “The Postal Service is the most American thing we’ve got.”
The Friday Night Massacre
Donald Trump has made no secret of his fear and loathing of the use of mail-in ballots for the upcoming presidential election. Never mind that absentee ballots are a logical safe harbor in a national health emergency. Trump has repeatedly raised the old chestnut of voter fraud, which of course statistically does not exist.
When Trump lets down his guard, he’ll even disclose the stubborn truth (like when we let out gas when, well, it seemed okay at the time): Republicans do better when fewer people vote. He freely admitted it in one of his tweets.
The obstacle for Trump, of course, is the receiver of all of those mail-in ballots: the US Postal Service (USPS), know for its integrity and independence. In May, Trump installed a one Louis DeJoy as Postmaster General. Not only would DeJoy become the first Postmaster General to not come from the ranks of postal workers. DeJoy, a supply chain logistics manager from North Carolina, is a major “bundler” for the Republican Party ($2.5 million in 2016 alone) and a reliable donor for Donald Trump’s campaign. Now there’s a quid pro quo for you.
It didn’t take long for DeJoy to strike. In what is being called the “Friday Night Massacre,” the new Postmaster General on Aug. 7 reassigned or displaced 23 postal executives, centralized the organizational chart around himself and “de-emphasized decades of of institutional postal knowledge,” especially a postal worker’s commitment to deliver all mail on premises on any given day. DeJoy and crew also raised postal rates for election ballots mailed to voters, passing along the costs to cash-strapped states. (The USPS has officially denied this, while keeping the policy in place.)
Congress was not happy. Just this week, over 80 lawmakers signed a letter to DeJoy that said in part:
It is vital that the US Postal Service not reduce mail delivery times, which could harm rural communities, seniors, small businesses and millions of Americans who rely on the mail for critical letters and packages. Eliminating overtime and directing postal workers to leave mail on the floor of postal facilities will erode confidence in the Postal Service and drive customers away, resulting in even worse financial conditions in the future.United States Congress
I am pretty sure that’s exactly what Donald Trump has in mind.
On Wednesday, Jul. 29, the USPS and the Treasury Department finalized the terms of the $10 billion loan that Congress had authorized for the Postal Service in the CARES Act last spring. Desperate for an infusion of cash, the post office agreed to numerous concessions that included “briefing Treasury on key parts of its operation and disclosing new and amended agreements with its largest customers.”
Two US Senators, Gary Peters (D-MI) and Tom Carper (D-DE), declared in a joint statement: “The terms of the loan would inappropriately insert Treasury into the internal operations of the Postal Service using onerous loan conditions.”
This heavy-handed treatment of a national treasure bring to mind the year 2006, when the George W. Bush administration and a lame-duck Republican Congress passed a law requiring the USPS to prefund 75 years worth of retiree health benefits in the span of 10 years. The cost was estimated to be $10 billion. Struggling mightily to make the payments, the post office stopped payments in 2012 and began careening toward bankruptcy. The concept was mean-spirited and nonsensical considering that even well-off companies carry unfunded pension liabilities.
There’s Still Time
This is how democracy dies…through “death by a thousand cuts.” Instead of appropriating the $25 billion that Democrats requisitioned in the CARES Act, the Trump administration held firm at a $10 billion loan because loans come with conditions…backbreaking conditions when one party has all the leverage.
Trump was able to appoint a Postmaster General with no experience in post office operations and will be at Trump’s beck and call.
There’s still plenty of time to petition Congress to ensure a safe and secure election amid a health emergency. The website Indivisible has a handy form that lists eight common sense demands and provides a fill-in tracking tool that connects you with your US Senator. Fire up those search engines!
The man is pulling out all the stops to prevent the citizens of this country from holding a legitimate election in which he might face removal from office.Jon Queally, staff writer at Common Dreams