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April 24, 2020 4:15 PM, EDT

Trump Criticizes Postal Service, Says It Should Boost Rates for Amazon

A USPS worker unloads a truck in San Francisco in December 2019.A USPS worker unloads a truck in San Francisco in December 2019. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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President Donald Trump said the U.S. Postal Service is “a joke” and should quadruple the rate it charges major companies to ship a package, but is too frightened of Amazon.com Inc. to do so.

Speaking in the Oval Office April 24 as he signed the latest coronavirus aid bill, Trump launched into a critique of the national mail carrier and hinted he’d block any aid if the service doesn’t set higher rates.

“The Postal Service is a joke. Because they’re handing out packages for Amazon and other internet companies, and every time they send a package, they lose money on it,” Trump said. “The Post Office should raise the price of a package by approximately four times.”

A representative for Amazon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The company still uses the USPS in rural areas where the sparse population makes household delivery more expensive.

The coronavirus pandemic and resulting loss of mail volume is expected to increase the Postal Service’s net operating loss by more than $22 billion over the next 18 months, “threatening our ability to operate,” Postmaster General Megan Brennan said this month.

Trump’s complaints about the Postal Service and its shipping deal with Amazon date to 2018, when he ordered the formation of a task force to examine its fiscal woes shortly after accusing the online retail giant of treating the USPS like a “delivery boy.”

The task force, led by the Treasury Department, recommended the Postal Service price packages “with profitability in mind” and raise rates on e-commerce goods and other nonessential shipments, among other reforms.

Census, Checks

The latest and possibly most acute of the USPS’ financial crises over the years is emerging as the service is delivering 60 million stimulus checks during the coronavirus pandemic and is the primary means of conducting the 2020 Census. A fully functional Postal Service would also be essential in a broader move to use mail-in ballots for the upcoming 2020 national elections.

Trump said the Postal Service doesn’t want to raise rates “because they don’t want to insult Amazon, and they don’t want to insult other companies perhaps that they like. The Post Office should raise the price of a package to the companies, not to the people.”

Amazon’s rapid expansion of its own dedicated delivery network has made it much less reliant on the U.S. Postal Service, which delivered about one-third of all Amazon packages in 2019, down from more than 60% two years earlier, according to Rakuten Intelligence. Amazon’s share of its own deliveries nearly tripled in the same period to nearly half of all of its packages.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, speaking at the same event, said his team is working with the Postal Service to access emergency funding. The loan will include “certain criteria” for changes to the Postal Service, he said.

“This thing’s losing billions of dollars. It has for years,” Trump said. “If they don’t raise the price, I’m not signing anything.”

Trump later tweeted that he wouldn’t let the Postal Service fail.

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