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[redacted] has finally gone too far by kneecapping the Postal Service.

2020-08-18
photo by wileydoc courtesy of pixabay.com

The president’s behavior has always been transgressive but so far, predictions that he would do himself in with his pranks have not panned out. This latest misdeed may finally be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. I’m referring to the “kneecapping” of the US Postal Service (USPS.) What’s unique about USPS is that it is the government agency most trusted by Americans, with an approval rating between 77 and 91%.

Congress, by contrast, has an approval rating in the teens, sometimes as low as 10%. No other government agency has such bipartisan confidence as the Post Office, not even the military. Yet the president has done his darndest to vilify the USPS, calling it “a joke” and claiming that vote-by-mail will be impossible without an emergency cash infusion.

Most Americans have forgotten that, in 2006 under President Bush (in furtherance of his privatization urge), the USPS was saddled with a unique burden: pre-funding retirement health care costs for 75 years. No other government or private organization has been forced to fund such benefits for workers who haven’t even been born yet. This Institute for Policy Studies report explains this extraordinary burden, why it was imposed, and how it should be relieved.

The new Postmaster General, pretending that he is making it “more efficient”, has exacerbated the problems at USPS by disallowing all overtime (which is needed because so many workers have been lost to the virus), removing blue mail drop boxes from streets (suddenly and unannounced), and taking away over 600 high-speed mail-sorting machines from key postal centers.

Some of these changes are irreversible, particularly the removal of mail-sorting machines– some of which have been dismantled or junked. To the extent to which machine removals have been specific to battleground states (an unknown factor) this could spell disaster for vote-by-mail efforts.

In an election during a pandemic, taking away the ability of the USPS to quickly deliver mail ballots is a clear attempt to prevent timely access to the ballot box for millions of Americans. These are the actions of a president who knows he will lose the election if everyone is allowed to vote. The more publicity this attempt receives, the greater will be the revulsion of the public for the would-be second term president.

We will find out next week, when Congress returns to session early and the Postmaster General faces a hostile House and Senate, just how bad this publicity will be for the president.

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