WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Wednesday reiterated his desire for the U.S. Postal Service to raise its rates in order to recoup massive losses the organization has incurred.
WUSA9 anchor Adam Longo asked White House pool reporter Cheryl Bolen of Bloomberg News if she would ask the President about striking a deal with USPS that might not include a hike to its package rates.
"Well you have to raise the rates on packages because they're losing a fortune on packages," the President said at an event in the White House State Dining Room. "They're losing anywhere from $2 to $3 or $4 dollars a package every time they deliver, so it's not fair."
The President's assertion that USPS loses money on each package it delivers has been repeatedly proven false.
The Postal Service's most recent financial report for the 2019 fiscal year reveals that "shipping and packages" and "other" were the only two line items that increased in revenue over the previous year.
The U.S. Postal Service's financial woes date back several years and have the agency saddled with billions of dollars in debt.
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D- Virginia) is chairman of the House Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations which oversees the Postal Service.
Rep. Connolly previously alleged to WUSA9 President Trump had personally intervened and removed financial assistance for the Postal Service that was included in the original House version of the $2 trillion CARES Act stimulus bill.
In February, the House of Representatives passed the USPS Fairness Act by a vote of 309-106. The bill is meant to repeal a requirement put into law in 2006 that USPS employee pensions needed to be pre-funded. This requirement has contributed to the Postal Service financial issues.
But not entirely, says a GOP aide on Capital Hill who helped to frame the issue in a wider context. House Republican leadership did not support the measure, in part, because of the belief it did not go far enough.
"The bill doesn’t address any of the underlying management and structural problems of the USPS," said the GOP aide.
Even the Postal Service itself agreed with that point, highlighting in a news release published in February that "by itself it (USPS Fairness Act) would neither reduce the underlying RHB liability nor improve our cash flow or long-term financial position. Most importantly, the bill would not impact the liquidity crisis that we will be facing in the next few years – a crisis that will literally threaten our ability to deliver the mail.”
"We want our Post Office to be successful. We don't want it to be a laughing stock and a stupidly run organization the way its been for so many decades now its ridiculous," said President Trump.
In answering previous questions about USPS, the President is quick to blame Amazon and other "large internet companies" for the Postal Service's financial issues.
The President suggests the Postal Board of Governors, the organization that controls the Postal Service and includes the Postmaster General, should increase its rates four-to-five times higher than they are currently set.
The bipartisan Postal Service Board of Governors, which includes three Trump appointees and two Democrats, recently voted unanimously to ask Congress for $50 billion in grants, $14 billion in debt forgiveness and $25 billion in unrestricted loans.
"It is imperative that they (Congress and the president) take action to shore up the finances of the Postal Service, and enable us to continue to fulfill our indispensable role during the pandemic, and to play an effective role in the nation’s economic recovery," said Postmaster General Brennan in a statement provided to WUSA9.
It's unclear if Congress would include those requests in the next stimulus bill currently being discussed, or if Trump would approve. Without this money, Brennan said the USPS could run out of money by September.
If Trump has no intention of allowing bailout money for the Postal Service, it's also not clear what would happen if the agency runs out of money.
"I don't know that the president has a coherant agenda. In typical Trump fashion, he's nursing a grudge against Jeff Bezos (Amazon) and that's what he's obsessed by and fixated on," Rep. Connolly said. "I do believe Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin does have an agenda. And that agenda is ultimately privatization."
The CARES Act stimulus bill gives USPS the ability to borrow $10 billion from the Treasury Department to keep it afloat. However, Trump has directed Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin not to disburse that loan to the Postal Service until it raises its package rates.
"You're hurting a lot of other people cause you're hurting retailers," Trump said. "You look at stores, where the stores are. They have to pay rent and taxes and all sorts of things that these companies don't have to pay so it's not a fair situation. We want to take care of our taxpayers."