September 19, 2018
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Trump orders review of Postal Service’s business model

David Goldman | AP
David Goldman | AP
After weeks of railing against online shopping giant Amazon, President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday, April 12, 2018, creating a task force to study the United States Postal System.
Philip Rucker and Josh Dawsey, Washington Post

President Donald Trump, who has assailed Amazon.com and falsely accused the online retail giant of cheating the U.S. Postal Service by taking advantage of bulk delivery rates, on Thursday night ordered a sweeping overhaul of the Postal Service’s business model.

Trump issued an executive order forming an administration task force, to be chaired by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and directed it to evaluate the Postal Service’s finances and operations. The order also directs the task force to issue a report outlining proposed changes within 120 days.

The order states that the Postal Service has incurred $65 billion of cumulative losses since the Great Recession ended in 2009 and that it must make changes so that it operates under “a sustainable business model.”

Trump’s order stipulates that “the steep decline in First-Class Mail volume, coupled with legal mandates that compel the USPS to incur substantial and inflexible costs, have resulted in a structural deficit where revenues are no longer sufficient to fund the pension liabilities and retiree health obligations owed to current employees.”

The order does not single out Amazon by name, but Trump has often railed against Amazon — in public and, more frequently, in private conversations with his advisers and friends — complaining about Jeff Bezos, the company’s billionaire founder and chief executive.

Trump’s advisers say his outbursts about Amazon often are triggered by what the president perceives as negative coverage of him by The Washington Post, which Bezos owns personally. The Post operates independently of Amazon, though Trump has falsely accused the newspaper of being a “lobbyist” for Amazon.

Trump has also griped to business friends, saying Amazon has a virtual monopoly on the retail industry and is hurting the bricks-and-mortar businesses, as well as the shopping malls that house them. Trump does not use a computer and does not shop online, advisers say.

Bezos has so far stayed out of the sniping match, declining to comment on Trump’s frustrations, though Post executives have explained the paper’s independence from Amazon and condemned the president for his false accusations.

Aides have repeatedly pointed out to Trump that the online retailer is not to blame for the Postal Service’s financial woes, but Trump has not assented. It was unclear why he abruptly ordered the review of the Postal Service, but he has gotten several briefings on the service in the past six months, aides say.

Thursday’s order marks the first official action by the Trump administration to potentially change the business structure of the Postal Service. Late last month, after Trump lashed out on Twitter about Amazon, White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters told reporters, “We have no actions at this time.”

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