In a nation where consensus has been ravaged by politics, the U. S. Postal Service is an exception. The USPS is by far our most popular federal agency, with a 91% approval rating, esteemed equally by Democratic and Republican respondents.
But Republican leaders led by President Donald Trump are bent on hobbling this crucial organization. They can’t be allowed to succeed.
This is what Trump said Thursday in a Fox Business Network interview about the USPS’s request for $25 billion in emergency pandemic aid: “Now, they need that money in order to make the post office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots.” He added that he would block an urgently needed economic stimulus plan if includes money for the Postal Service or $3.5 billion to help states pay for mail-related election costs. “Now, if we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money. That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting, they just can’t have it,” Trump said.
But there have never been significant problems with mail-in voting fraud even though several states have relied on it for years. And handling mail-in votes properly is a crucial element to ensure safe and fair November elections.
The USPS must get the money to handle the nation’s votes properly in the short term and the nation’s mail properly in the long term.
Starving USPS is not the only way the president is trying to undermine it. Trump has appointed a postmaster general who is a perfect ally in this, beset by conflicts of interest, without qualifications, and brazenly attempting to hollow out mail delivery.
Louis DeJoy’s principal job qualification is his status as a Trump fundraiser. His conflicts, including a $30 million ownership stake in a USPS contractor whose value USPS could affect, are grotesque. His “Friday Night Massacre,” the reassignment or displacement of 23 key USPS executives imposed earlier this month, is an attack.
Since taking his post in June, DeJoy has slowed deliveries, eliminated overtime, and left mail sitting on the floors of processing facilities. His vision for the USPS clearly includes worsening service. For Americans who rely on the USPS to deliver personal and business mail, medication, legal documents and packages quickly and inexpensively, that’s tragic.
Many Republicans have dreamed of privatizing the USPS for decades, pointing to its increasing financial losses and money to be made in for-profit mail delivery. But privatizing would kill the model that gives a huge nation inexpensive, reliable service, and is envied the world over.
DeJoy’s cuts could also decimate the 7,600-person USPS workforce on Long Island, dealing the economy a harsh blow that has mobilized Sen. Chuck Schumer to fight DeJoy.
The USPS can and should run more efficiently. But withholding aid in the false belief that voting by mail hurts Trump is insanity. Driving it into the ground by appointing a conflicted political crony is unacceptable. And doing so to undermine an election and a beloved, crucial institution is unforgivable.
— The editorial board