The rank malevolence of the Trump administration continues. The Washington Post reports that lawmakers fully intended to provide emergency funding to the U.S. Postal Service in pandemic stimulus measures, but the Trump White House made it clear Trump would not sign it. Why?
As with most things in the Trump administration, the logic behind such a bizarre move is somewhat of a mystery. The short answer, though, is that hard-right Republicans and their advisers have steadily sought to kill off and/or privatize one of the government's oldest, most visible and most popular services, and Trump's personal animosity towards Amazon founder and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos, expressed in (yes, this is the sort of nonsense that our lives now revolve around) hostility towards the Postal Service for cheaply delivering Amazon packages, means those arsonists haven't needed to try very hard to manipulate Dear Leader into their line of thinking.
The crux of the Post report is a quote from an (again) anonymous "senior" official who says the administration told Congress "very clearly that the president was not going to sign the bill" if money was included for the U.S. Postal Service. Senators were able to wedge a $10 billion Treasury Department loan into the bill, after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told them they "can have a loan, or you can have nothing at all," but adding $10 billion of debt to an essential government agency while Mnuchin demands an unfettered ability to dole out government dollars to private industry however he sees fit is, to put it mildly, a curious stance.
Whether Trump himself made it clear to his subordinates that he would rather see America burn down than save a service that rudely delivers packages for one of his many, many self-identified enemies or whether Mnuchin is the saboteur, using Trump's name and pathologies for his own ends, is unclear. It's always unclear, every time. It would be surprising if Donald Trump had enough interest in pandemic relief efforts to even know what might be included in the huge bill; it would not be surprising in the least, though, if Trump was obsessively following the bill's progress explicitly to make sure nothing in it did a damn bit of good for anyone, anywhere who might have ever said a bad thing about him.
The U.S. Postal Service was established by the Constitution; Benjamin Franklin himself was the first colonial postmaster. Despite the existence now of private firms like FedEx and UPS, the Postal Service remains the only entity that delivers mail to all of the United States, rather than just the profitable parts. That makes it an essential service, still, but it may become even more essential in the months ahead.
There is a very good likelihood that social distancing measures will be in place in November, for this year's national elections. There is a very, very good likelihood that each of the American states will be forced to conduct those elections primarily via vote-by-mail, sending out ballots and collecting them via the USPS.
If, that is, the USPS is still solvent and still sending out workers. That the White House seems either indifferent to or eager to sabotage the very framework of the upcoming elections is ... curious? Bumbling? Insane?
What are the words to use here? And is there any bottom to the bizarre half-incompetent, half-malevolent failures of this White House, fully aided by Mike Pence, by Mitch McConnell, by the money-grubbing Murdochs, and by every last Republican leader?