Amazon and other online companies are rallying behind the U.S. Postal Service amid the ongoing political battle over federal support for the beleaguered agency.
Last night, the Package Coalition (an alliance of small, medium and large businesses that includes Amazon, Ebay, Zappos, QVC, Columbia and others) launched a $2 million national ad campaign aimed at raising awareness about a proposed package tax being pushed by the Trump Administration.
The Coalition estimates that the tax would raise rates by 400 percent to ship a package through USPS, and would have a detrimental affect on businesses and individuals, particularly those in rural areas who primarily depend on the post office for shipping.
According to reports, ads began airing last night on Fox News’s “Hannity” show and will continue running on both Fox News and Fox Business. And a 60-second spot will air during Rush Limbaugh’s radio show.
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President Donald Trump began targeting the USPS back in April 2018, when he ordered a review of the Post Office’s finances by a task force led by the Treasury Department. “A number of factors, including the steep decline in First-Class Mail volume, coupled with legal mandates that compel the U.S.P.S. to incur substantial and inflexible costs, have resulted in a structural deficit,” Trump stated in the order. “The U.S.P.S. is on an unsustainable financial path and must be restructured to prevent a taxpayer-funded bailout.”
The task force’s report, released later that year, proposed that the Postal Service ramp up shipping costs for certain packages — a move that some insiders argued was specifically targeted at Amazon, a company President Trump has repeatedly criticized, presumably because founder Jeff Bezos also owns The Washington Post.
It’s estimated that the USPS lost about $78 billion from fiscal years 2007 through 2019, according to the Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan watchdog group. That was due primarily to declining mail volumes and increased costs.
And USPS leadership has warned that it is close to running out of funds to continue operations.
Today, the GAO issued a recommendation that Congress step in quickly to address the agency’s shortcomings. “Businesses and foreign postal organizations that faced similar challenges made significant changes, such as reducing less profitable products and services,” a statement read. “However, USPS can’t make similar changes because it has been unable to reach an agreement with stakeholders, including Congress, on what actions to take.”
Previously, USPS had proposed cost-cutting measures such as reducing deliveries to five days a week, but the suggestions failed to gain congressional approval.
And in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency’s woes continue to mount. House Democrats said they have included aid for the Postal Service in their draft of the next coronavirus stimulus package, but it’s unclear whether that will clear the Senate.