US President Donald Trump, belatedly realizing that the US Postal Service is far more popular than he will ever be, has been publicly distancing himself from his administration’s efforts to cut costs at the post office. Today, he told Twitter that actually, it was all Amazon’s fault:
.@Amazon, and others in that business, should be charged (by the U.S. Postal System) much more per package, and the Post Office would be immediately brought back to “good health”, now vibrant, with ALL jobs saved. No pass on to customers. Get it done!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 18, 2020
This is well-trod ground for the president, who appears to be frightened by Jeff Bezos. In 2018, President Trump apparently wanted to double the amount that Amazon paid in shipping. He’s also called the post office Amazon’s “delivery boy.”
But today’s tweet is odd, and may be a tacit admission that the Trump Administration went too far in starving the USPS, which is a broadly popular institution that many Americans rely on for prescription drugs, benefit checks, and to keep their small businesses afloat.
Previously, Trump seemed to support the aggressive cost-cutting measures at the USPS that were blamed for slowing the mail. Those service reductions, removal of mail sorting machines, and slashed overtime hours for mail carriers were met with sustained criticism over the last several weeks. All this would have made it much harder for people to vote by mail during a pandemic; the USPS warned 46 states and Washington, DC that mail-in ballot deliveries might be delayed so long that they wouldn’t be counted. Outrage followed. (Earlier today, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said the postal service would pause implementation of his cost-cutting measures.)
President Trump said that he is deliberately underfunding the postal service in order to make it more difficult to vote by mail, in an August 13th interview on Fox Business Network. (Interestingly, he and his wife Melania have requested mail-in ballots.) Yesterday, Trump appeared to change his tune, tweeting “SAVE THE POST OFFICE.” Today, he is attempting to blame Jeff Bezos’ flagship company for his own unpopular plan to starve the post office. On Friday, DeJoy will testify before the Senate.