Editor’s Note: This post has been subsequently updated:
Trump administration opposes US. Postal Service aid – ‘let it die’ (April 12, 2020)
Republicans have been trying to kill the U.S. Postal Service for decades. Now the coronavirus pandemic has given them a window of opportunity to complete the coup de grâce. And along with it jeopardize your right to vote early by mail in the November election.
At the Coronavirus Task Force press briefing that he again hijacked on Friday, Trump said he opposes mail-in voting for November:
The president, speaking at the daily White House briefing on the pandemic, made clear he does not support using vote-by-mail as a backstop in the event the outbreak keeps people from going to the polls.
“No, because I think a lot of people cheat with mail-in voting,” said Trump, who has levied baseless accusations about voter fraud that he claims kept him from winning the popular vote in 2016. “I think people should vote with ID, voter ID. I think voter ID is very important, and the reason they don’t want voter ID is because they intend to cheat.”
“It shouldn’t be mail-in voting,” he added. “It should be you go to a booth and you proudly display yourself. You don’t send it in the mail where people can pick up — all sorts of bad things can happen … by the time it gets in and is tabulated.”
Hypocrite: Donald Trump was one of 40 million early voters in the US midterms: U.S. voters set new records for getting their ballots in early ahead of the midterm elections, and the president was among them.
Trump and other Republicans have largely rejected the idea of widespread vote-by-mail in response to the coronavirus pandemic, with some arguing it would harm the electoral prospects of GOP candidates.
Trump recently told the three dolts on a divan at Fox & Friends in regards to the stimulus bill passed by Congress, “They [Democrats] had things — levels of voting that, if you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”
Just to be clear:
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) said Monday he predicts there will be another coronavirus outbreak in the fall, “In fact, I would anticipate that that would actually happen because of the degree of transmissibility.” Fauci predicts another coronavirus outbreak in fall with ‘very different’ outcome.
A study published in the Lancet Public Health journal says reopening businesses and schools in April could delay the highest point of a second wave to October, giving health services time to prepare and respond. New study warns of second wave of coronavirus.
So the sociopath-in-chief is telling Americans that he wants you to risk your life or the life of poll workers with in-person voting during the height of a coronavirus surge. He wants you to be fearful for your life, because using coronavirus to suppress voter turnout is the new GOP tactic to improve the electoral chances of Republicans winning in November.
Election law expert Richard Hasen in a must read op-ed in the LA Times explains, How Republicans are using the pandemic to suppress the vote.
This evil GOP plan may succeed if Republicans can eliminate voting by mail simply by killing the U.S. Postal Service by failing to fund it before it runs out of money.
Stephen Wolf reports at Daily Kos, Voting Rights Roundup: U.S. Postal Service could run out of funds and cause crisis for vote-by-mail:
House Democrats, led by Oversight and Reform Committee chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, have warned that the U.S. Postal Service is at serious risk of shutting down by June if Congress does not swiftly act to guarantee its solvency and protect its workers. Should that doomsday scenario come to pass, it would make it impossible for states to hold elections by mail, which experts have widely recommended as the safest option to preserve voting access amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The postal service has experienced a dramatic drop in the volume of mail being sent, thanks in large part to business closures, alongside a dramatic increase in the need to purchase protective equipment for workers. An uptick in package delivery has not been enough to make up the shortfall in revenues. Republicans have long supported efforts to privatize the postal service, which would raise the cost and reduce services for Americans in many communities. Because the GOP has passed legislation to cripple the post office in order to encourage such privatization, the postal service faces far different budgetary constraints than any other federal agency.
The USPS has been barred from being subsidized with taxpayer funds since the 1980s and instead must remain profitable on its own. Republicans also passed a law in 2006 that requires the agency to prefund its retiree health benefits 75 years into the future, costing the agency more than $5 billion a year. While prefunding benefits is by no means a bad idea on its own, no other federal agency—let alone the postal service’s private competitors—operates under anything like that requirement, putting the postal service at a huge disadvantage.
If the postal service faced a more level playing field among its competitors when it came to pension obligations, its services would likely be more competitive and able to earn more revenue—and therefore not facing its current shortfall. As well, letting this essential service rely on taxpayer subsidies at least in emergency situations would eliminate the potential for a crisis like this one entirely.
Congressional Democrats had proposed giving the postal service a $25 billion infusion and forgiving its $11 billion in debt to avoid a cataclysmic shutdown, but Senate Republicans stripped it out of the recently passed $2 trillion stimulus bill. Instead, the GOP supported a provision to let the agency borrow $10 billion from the Treasury Department instead of its yearly maximum of $3 billion. However, such a loan could only be used for operating expenses and not paying off debt, leading the agency to warn that the proposal didn’t go nearly far enough.
It’s critical that Congress passes a law to mandate and fund an expansion of mail voting in the states to ensure that tens of millions of voters aren’t denied the ability to safely vote, and some states at least are already taking steps to do so on their own. However, in the worst-case-scenario, where the postal service must cut or cease operations, states relying on mail voting would wind up in an impossible situation.
House Democrats were in a position of maximum leverage prior to the passage of the last stimulus bill, but they caved to Republicans when they agreed to a package that didn’t include adequate election protection measures or direct postal service funding. However, they may still have a chance if further stimulus efforts take shape, though any hopes rest on whether Republicans recognize that their November election odds depend heavily on the state of the economy.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is negotiating the fourth coronavirus rescue bill, but “The Grim Reaper” of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, refuses to do anything to secure our elections and is reluctant to pursue the next round of coronavirus legislation.
The U.S. Postal Service employs 630,000 people. Every day, postal workers are risking their health if not their life by going to work to make sure that you receive your mail. Many people rely on the U.S. Postal Service for delivery of their medications (e.g., the VA health care system mails medications to patients). More than 100 postal workers have tested positive for COVID-19, and two have died.
As Laura Clawson at Daily Kos says:
The coronavirus crisis should be making us see that we need more public goods, not allow the ones we have to die off—or be killed by Republicans for whom that’s long been a goal. The USPS needs funding now.
Contact your member of Congress and Senators and demand a financial rescue for the U.S. Postal Service. And demand that your right to vote safely and securely by early mail-in ballots be protected.