On Friday, Donald Trump threatened to block emergency coronavirus aid for the U.S. Postal Service unless it jacked up its shipping prices for online retailers, but later that day promised that he’d never let the agency fail.
According to the Washington Post, Trump lashed out at USPS on Friday while speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, emphasizing that he thinks that the agency should “raise the price of a package by approximately four times” before the agency would gain access to a $10 billion loan approved by Congress earlier this month.
“The Postal Service is a joke,” he added.
The pricing of USPS packages has been a particular gripe of Trump’s for years, especially with how much the agency charges to ship goods for big online retailers, like Amazon. According to the Post, administration officials wishing to remain anonymous claim that this criticism from Trump is meant to undermine Amazon in particular.
Mark Dimondstein, the president of the American Postal Workers Union, struck back, calling Trump’s comments “shameful.”
“President Trump’s clear intent is to raise prices and force a crisis at the Post Office so that his political benefactors at the corporate shippers can increase their company profits at the expense of the people,” Dimondstein said. “Trump’s plan to increase package prices by four or five times would hasten the demise of the public U.S. Postal Service and end affordable, universal delivery to every address in the country.”
Other experts and analysts have warned against Trump’s suggestion, noting that raising prices would allow other mail agencies, like UPS and FedEx, to raise their prices as well to still be competitive for customers, the Post notes.
However, mere hours after making his initial comments, Trump insisted that he would “never let our Post Office fail,” adding that the agency has been “mismanaged for years.”
“I will never let our Post Office fail. It has been mismanaged for years, especially since the advent of the internet and modern-day technology. The people that work there are great, and we’re going to keep them happy, healthy, and well!” he tweeted.
According to the Hill, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, who also spoke in the Oval Office on Friday, said that his department would “put certain criteria for a postal reform program as part of the loan.”