Postal Updates

Bill McAllister

President Trump directs commission to study U.S. Postal Service

April 13, 2018 03:00 PM

  • U.S. Postal Service mail carrier and delivery vehicle. USPS photograph.

Washington Postal Scene by Bill McAllister

President Donald Trump has directed a presidential task force to study the United States Postal Service and how it prices packages.

The order follows weeks of sharp criticism by the president of the Postal Service’s package delivery agreement with Amazon, the giant online retailer.

The commission, to be headed by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, follows the lines of a commission created by President George W. Bush to study the postal service in 2003.

Critics have said Trump’s attacks on the Amazon delivery deal is unfounded. It was not mentioned in the president’s order creating the commission.

The president did attack the arrangement once again in a pair of tweets April 13, repeating his charge that it was giving Amazon an unfair advantage over other retailers.

“Only fools, or worse, are saying that our money losing Post Office makes money with Amazon. THEY LOSE A FORTUNE,” he said in an April tweet, declaring: “this will be changed.”

Packages have been one of the few bright spots in Postal Service’s finances because first-class mail, its financial mainstay for decades, has fallen sharply.

The order gives the new commission 120 days to report its findings.

The Washington Post said it could not determine why Trump “abruptly ordered the review of the Postal Service.”  It noted the president has received a number of briefings on the service in the past six months.

The Postal Service welcomed the presidential commission, saying “an open and transparent review process in which the perspectives of all stakeholders are fully represented to develop reform proposals could benefit American businesses and consumers.”

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The USPS statement also repeated the agency’s many calls for new legislation to govern its operations.

“The USPS is on an unsustainable financial path and must be restructured to prevent a taxpayer-funded bailout,” said the presidential order.

It said losses by the Postal Service since the 2008 recession had amounted to $65 billion.

The commission is to be headed by the Treasury secretary “or his designee” and will include the manager of the Office of Management and Budget, director of the Office of Personnel Management and “any other department or agency head the chair may designate.”

First among the issues the commission is to address is “the expansion and pricing of the package delivery market and the USPS’s role in competitive markets.”

It is also to examine the decline of first-class mail and the Postal Service’s mail monopoly.

All the panel’s recommendations are to be made “without shifting additional costs to taxpayers.”