Business & Lobbying

Businesses urge Trump admin. against Postal Service rate hikes

A group of major businesses is warning the Trump's administration's against making reforms to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) that would inflame tensions with online retailers like Amazon.

The Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service wrote Wednesday in a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that raising package rates and privatization should be off the table in an administration task-force review of the financially strapped USPS.

"We respectfully urge you, Mr. Secretary, to keep these notes of caution in mind as the task force reaches its conclusions and makes its recommendations to the president and ultimately the Congress," wrote Art Sackler, the head of the coalition.

The Treasury Department is in charge of the task force reviewing the USPS' operations.

Sackler's letter said privatizing the Postal Service "would be a severe mistake" that could lead to severe cuts throughout parts of the country.

Package shipments "the lone bright spot" for the USPS, Sackler said.

The coalition, which represents major mailers such as Amazon and Bank of America, argued raising rates would be an "equally mistaken" move that would starve the Postal Service of money by driving business to use other delivery services.

The business community is renewing pressure on the Trump administration after officials delayed the release of a long-awaited task-force report that could have criticized the rates Amazon and other companies pay for package delivery.

President Trump ordered the review in April after he accused Amazon, without evidence, of treating the Postal Service as its "delivery boy" by paying less than it should for package delivery.

Some business leaders fear that Trump is planning to use the task force to raise package rates as a way of retaliating against Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post. Trump has long complained about the Post's coverage of his presidency.

The USPS is in deep financial trouble, reporting a net loss of $2.7 billion in fiscal 2017. But those losses have been largely driven by a steep decline in first-class and marketing mail and increased package deliveries have helped stem the losses.

The coalition and other groups want the administration task force to endorse bipartisan legislation in the House and Senate that would overhaul the USPS's pension and healthcare payment system, which it says would better shore up its finances.

Trump was briefed last month on preliminary findings from the task force but the report's public release was put on hold.

"The task force will continue our work to identify solutions to strengthen the USPS business model driving toward a public report before the end of the year," a Treasury Department spokesperson said last month. "It is clear that the governance of USPS must be fixed and we encourage Congress to take actions towards that goal."

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