COVID-19: New Government Loan ‘Could Accelerate Demise of US Postal Service’

The U.S. Treasury Secretary and U.S. Postal Service leaders appear to be exploiting the pandemic to hold the Postal Service to unreasonable loan terms without even consulting Congress.

By Jake Johnson
Common Dreams

Leading congressional Democrats are warning that an emergency loan agreement announced Wednesday by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy—a major donor to President Donald Trump and the GOP—could “accelerate the demise of the Postal Service” by giving the administration unprecedented access to the popular agency’s internal operations.

“Secretary Mnuchin and the leadership of the U.S. Postal Service appear to be exploiting this public health pandemic to hold the Postal Service to unreasonable loan terms without even consulting Congress,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), and Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) in a joint statement Wednesday evening.

According to a loan term sheet (pdf) made public by the lawmakers, the USPS will gain access to $10 billion in emergency funding approved by Congress back in March provided that the agency adheres to a number of requirements, including providing the Trump administration with “historical and protected business, financial, operational, contractual, and planning data that Treasury may determine is necessary to evaluate USPS’s current and future financial condition.”

Mnuchin being sworn in as treasury secretary by VP Mike Pence in 2017. (Wikipedia)

The agreement also requires USPS to give the Treasury Department access to proprietary information about the Postal Service’s private-sector shipping contracts and bars the agency from accessing the emergency funds if its “cash balance exceeds $8 billion.”

In a statement, Mnuchin hailed the deal as a step in the direction of “the president’s goal of establishing a sustainable business model under which USPS can continue to provide necessary mail service for all Americans, without shifting costs to taxpayers.” In April, Trump called the USPS a “joke” and demanded that it dramatically hike package prices amid the Covid-19 pandemic, which caused a sharp decline in mail volume.

Maloney, Peters, Connolly, and Carper said Wednesday that the terms agreed upon by Mnuchin and DeJoy—who took over as head of the USPS just last month—”would inappropriately insert the Treasury into the internal operations of the Postal Service.”

“These terms would severely limit the Postal Service’s access to capital and could accelerate the demise of the Postal Service that all Americans, especially seniors, small businesses, veterans, and those living in rural communities, rely upon every day, especially during the pandemic,” the lawmakers said. “We will not stop fighting to protect this critical service that communities depend on and to ensure that every American can safely participate in the November elections.”

The new loan agreement comes as DeJoy continues to rush ahead with sweeping operational changes at the USPS that postal workers believe are part of a deliberate effort to sabotage the beloved government institution and put it on a path toward privatization—a longtime goal of the conservative movement.

Last week, as Common Dreams reported, USPS leadership launched a pilot program that could result in significant delays in mail delivery by barring postal workers from sorting packages during their morning operations. In Portland, Maine, letter carriers allege they are being instructed to delay first-class parcels in order to prioritize Amazon packages.

“Undermining and degrading the Postal Service helps frustrate the customer, which sets the stage to privatizing it,” Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union, told The Intercept. “The Trump administration is on record for raising prices, reducing service, and reducing workers’ rights and benefits.”


Motherboard reported Monday that “post offices around the country are slashing their hours—including during the busiest times of day—with little notice as yet another abrupt cost-saving measure” implemented by DeJoy, previously the CEO of New Breed Logistics, a private firm with a history of union-busting activity.

“In addition to West Virginia and New Jersey, post offices in Berkeley, CaliforniaPetersburg, AlaskaYoungstown, Ohio, and Knoxville, Tennessee have announced similar plans to reduce hours,” Motherboard reported. “All of the changes Motherboard has reviewed were announced only by signs hanging on the post office doors.”

In addition to harming the credibility of the USPS—which ranks as the most popular government agency in the United States—DeJoy’s cost-cutting measures also threaten to disrupt upcoming elections as an record number of Americans turn to vote-by-mail as the safest way to cast their ballots amid the pandemic.

“The Trump administration’s attempts to politicize, privatize, and gut USPS in the middle of a pandemic and unprecedented vote-by-mail is one of the biggest scandals in American politics right now,” Mother Jones reporter Ari Berman tweeted Wednesday.

In an op-ed for this week, Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.) warned that “the electoral implications for the destruction of the Postal Service are momentous.”

“If it is forced to curtail its service,” Pascrell wrote, “our ability to hold a national election could be obliterated.”

11 comments for “COVID-19: New Government Loan ‘Could Accelerate Demise of US Postal Service’

  1. Anthony
    August 2, 2020 at 12:35

    The post office slowed first class mail down six years ago. Local mail was given two to three days from one day. Nobody said a word? Customers were never alerted. They didn’t even post in lobby. Guess it’s ok under Obama. The double standard continues.

  2. dean 1000
    August 1, 2020 at 16:20

    If Dejoy’s cost-cutting might disrupt or reduce voting-by-mail, the all-mail voting states have 3 months to set up alternative drive-up sites where voters can drop off the ballots they usually mail in, if they believe mail delivery may be purposefully or inadvertently delayed.
    Some postal workers may volunteer to pick up ballots of those who w/0 transportation. Postal workers won’t be the only volunteers of course. People who take a day off to help should get a state tax deduction equivalent to what the old poll workers got. The other states have as much time to prepare COVID-19 alternatives as the all mail voting states do. Members of Congress can encourage people to mail-in their ballots early.

    Televising the opening of the ballot envelopes would go a long way to dampen baseless cries of vote fraud.

    The best outcome is for the privatizers to quit messing with the post office and let them deliver the mail (and ballots) as they always have, and for congress to give the states the Covid-19 help they need.

  3. Spudflyer
    July 31, 2020 at 11:03

    Let me guess… break the Post Office and Jeff Bezos steps in to “Save the Day”…? Its all falling into place.

  4. geeyp
    July 31, 2020 at 09:59

    Over the past four months here in the U.S., mail delivery has gotten worse. Parcels that took only eight days from overseas now take forty-five days, etc. Can you imagine only allowed voting through the mail as mandated with certain state governors enforcing it effecting the results with multiple delays or not showing up at all? This does not match with accuracy in the vote count. Another victim in the Covid-19 madness.

  5. Scott J. Kinghorn
    July 30, 2020 at 18:08

    Leave the Post Office alone.

  6. Randolph Garrison
    July 30, 2020 at 17:14

    Taking the oath of office, that he has no intention of upholding, his word means less than dog s***!

  7. robert e williamson jr
    July 30, 2020 at 16:58

    Well the stupid pervert, KING VIRUS, has now called for suspending the elections.

    SUPRIZE, SUPRIZE, the leader of the stupid haters has spoken. Had enough yet?

  8. Jim Meeks
    July 30, 2020 at 16:44

    If Mother Jones reporter Ari Berman thinks it’s awful it must be a good thing and damaging to the liberals plan for mail fraud during the upcoming election

  9. robert e williamson jr
    July 30, 2020 at 16:34

    So let me get this right. Trump, King Virus administration has been working continually to dismantle our government for the last 3.5 years is trying to destroy the U.S. Postal service so mail in voting will not be allowed. Among a ;long list of other activities that would facilitate his being King Virus for ever.

    Hmm, and the repugniklans jump to his aid at every chance. And apparently the dimos are helpless to do anything about it. Does seem to me that both parties are completely worthless for anyone except lining their own pockets.

    So he has DOJ on his side, the SCOTUS is an activist court that should be trusted by no one to met out justice and the democrats are helpless with no weapons to hold this bastard off for another 90 + days.

    I appears the Amanzon, FedX, UPS and their lobby have been successful at buying congress because I really don’t remember the public demanding USPS be disbanded.

    I’ve been critical of Americans in the past but maybe they got it right and I’ve missed it.

    Well not really. If we examine the public reaction to this virus what do we see? Millions who are willing to risk their life for a night out. Not me you hateful fools.

    Millions who believe this Virus King knows all, swill down his venomous words and get a thrill doing it.
    Not me you hateful fools.

    We see idiots protest wearing masks for what ever their reason is. They are wrong. Not me you hateful fools.

    These people often claim to love this pervert. Not me you hateful fools.

    The observation could be made, correctly that the problem here is their lack of intellect. Not me you hateful fools.

    Do I no longer desire to have a USPS? Not me you fools.

    I desire the best for all others, except hateful fools. You hateful fools don’t.

    It is my sincere wish that those hateful fools who support this idiot get what they deserve and it appears by the increasing death rate in this country they may actually be successful at wiping themselves out. A very apropos result of being stupid, hateful and not having a very active brain.

    Thanks CN

  10. mary e
    July 30, 2020 at 15:08

    Why can’t the Congress go to court (or do something!) to hold off this absolutely crazed idea of getting rid of the USPS especially
    now when Trump doesn’t want elections held at all…and more people will vote via mail…using the USPS to get the vote out???
    This is the most unbelievable move I have seen yet from this administration….it will be the last of the federal agencies decimated by
    the Trump administration…….

  11. Aaron
    July 30, 2020 at 13:51

    Sounds like Amazon will eventually take over this operation. Again, the Democratic Party rears it’s head on the really big, important transformational issues, only when it sees political opportunity, just ask “Amazon Cuomo” see:

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