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Postal Service packages

 Stacks of boxes holding cards and letters are seen at the U.S. Post Office sort center December 15, 2008 in San Francisco, California. On its busiest day of the year, the U.S. Postal Service is expecting to process and mail over one billion cards, letters and packages. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Your Mail Is About to Get Slower and More Expensive—Blame Trump's Men, Seriously

Privatization is a very possible outcome as GOP appointees at the highest levels deploy the disaster capitalism playbook from inside the nation's cherished Postal Service.

Lisa Graves

Starting today, October 1, 2021, every American will face a real adverse consequence of Donald Trump’s making: slower mail at a higher price.

This is no one-time headline.

These increased costs and delays for tens of millions of pieces of First Class mail will happen six days a week from here on out—unless and until the leadership of the U.S. Postal Service is changed.

Privatization of the U.S. Postal Service is a real risk, if not a probability at this point, despite assurances to the contrary from DeJoy and Bloom.

The new price hikes are higher than the rate of inflation and are paired with steep reductions in the use of air mail, all at the behest of Trump donor Louis DeJoy, who is the Postmaster General, and Ron Bloom, the Chair of the Postal Service Board of Governors, who was appointed by Donald Trump.

Bloom supported DeJoy becoming Postmaster in 2020—with the backing of Mike Duncan, a crony of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and at the behest of Trump appointee Steve Mnuchin, the foreclosure king turned Treasury Secretary.

Investigative reporting since then has raised major concerns about how DeJoy jumped to the front of the line and has demonstrated that Trump’s Board failed to thoroughly vet DeJoy’s track record or police his multi-million-dollar financial conflicts of interest. Bloom has stood by DeJoy, despite those revelations. He has done so in spite of catastrophic slowdowns in mail delivery before the election and last winter that delayed medical prescriptions, killed baby chickens, and more—all tied to changes under DeJoy.

The men Trump appointed constitute the majority of the Postal Service’s Board of Governors, which also includes DeJoy. President Joe Biden’s recent appointees do not have enough votes to constrain DeJoy, who is barreling ahead with dramatic changes to the Postal Service that a regulatory agency said were based on untested assumptions and wishful thinking.

The DeJoy-Bloom postal plan has also been criticized by congressional leaders and others.

The package delivery slowdown is coming just in time for the holiday gift-giving season in the midst of the ongoing pandemic. DeJoy’s delivery delays were a disaster last winter, unlike before he was installed at the helm.

Even before the mail and package slowdowns we are about to experience, the failures under DeJoy had shaken public confidence in the Postal Service, which had been the highest-rated and most trusted governmental agency. Some people have cited the sudden unreliability of mail delivery that emerged during DeJoy’s 16 months of mismanagement as reasons they may choose other delivery services or online options.

The DeJoy-Bloom plan is a recipe for disaster. It is likely to create a downward spiral that will accelerate people away from relying on the Postal Service for letters and packages.

Last fall, DeJoy even told state election officials that he could not meet statutory deadlines for ballot delivery, deadlines that had been met for years. Federal courts had to intervene to ensure that ballots were prioritized for delivery in time to be counted—as Trump attacked voting by mail during the deadly pandemic. His partisan political allies tried to make it harder to vote by mail and count mailed absentee ballots in an efficient manner.

A few brave federal judges helped save the integrity of the election in 2020 over DeJoy’s objections to that litigation. Now DeJoy touts how the workers of the Postal Service succeeded in timely ballot delivery, despite his actions before the public outcry. However, it remains to be seen how DeJoy will behave during the 2022 election if he is not removed from office and returned to the private sector where he belongs.

It is worth recognizing that Trump did not just appoint random political cronies to govern the Postal Service: four of the six men he got confirmed with the help of Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) were investment bankers. Bloom’s term actually expired last December. He is a holdover on the Board, whom Biden could readily replace. Another investment banker Trump chose, John Barger, has a term that expires this December unless his friends on the Board extend his term or Biden appoints a replacement while the Democrats have a majority in the Senate.

What Biden cannot do is fire DeJoy, who has no term limit and whom only the Board can remove.

Both Postal Governors Bloom and Barger need to go if there is to be any hope of saving the Postal Service from DeJoy.

His corrosive ideas will pave the way to parting out or privatizing one of our greatest public services, the U.S. mail and local post offices—something investment bankers would love but something the American people never voted for or have supported.

Privatization of the U.S. Postal Service is a real risk, if not a probability at this point, despite assurances to the contrary from DeJoy and Bloom.

Earlier this year, as Jacob Bobage of the Washington Post reported, the Postal Service handed a $100+ million contract for providing logistics previously handled by postal workers to DeJoy’s former firm, XPO (now GPO). His spokesperson said DeJoy played no role in the decision; meanwhile, Dejoy continues to receive millions in lease revenue from XPO for other logistics facilities.

More of that kind of parting out of the Postal Service’s logistics assets and operations may be made easier by other changes under the DeJoy-Bloom plan, such as expanded regional trucking lines. Another Trump appointee to the postal board previously ran a regional trucking line, as did DeJoy.

Additionally, under DeJoy and Bloom, the Postal Service is largely abandoning airmail, the innovation of 1918. Meanwhile, competitors like Amazon and UPS are expanding their fleets of jets. It is not rocket science that planes are faster than trucks, but DeJoy is determined to drive the Postal Service into the past with fewer flights and more gas-guzzling semis while charging Americans more for slower mail and packages.

The DeJoy-Bloom plan is a recipe for disaster.

It is likely to create a downward spiral that will accelerate people away from relying on the Postal Service for letters and packages.

That’s where the investment bankers come in. The postal board is a part-time gig that requires so few hours that the board members do not have to make public disclosures of their income and investments.

Bloom’s day job is as a partner at Brookfield Asset Management (BAM), a private equity firm whose CEO has extolled the profitability of privatizing public assets and infrastructure.

Our only real protection is to remove the investment bankers like Bloom from oversight over the Postal Service and to fire DeJoy before he wrecks the Postal Service for the rest of us.

Before becoming a leader at BAM, Bloom was a partner at Lazard, a private equity firm that profited handsomely from the privatization of the Royal Mail in the UK. Bloom did not respond to a request for comment about whether any of his compensation benefited in any way from Lazard’s actions or whether he argued against that privatization when he was a leader there.

While Bloom has told Congress that he will not be involved in postal decisions that would benefit his investment firm, there is nothing to stop him from benefiting later from privatization opportunities that arise from DeJoy’s bounty of bad ideas for our mail.

Indeed, Bloom parlayed his work as a government employee on Fiat’s acquisition of Chrysler during the Obama administration into lucrative work for Lazard on, you guessed it, Fiat’s acquisition of Chrysler. He did not break any legal rules in doing so, but that’s the point. There are no effective rules to prevent the men Trump helped put at the top of our Postal Service—who are supposed to act as stewards of our public assets—from breaking this public asset for the rest of us and then later profiting from the chaos their decisions may have caused.

It's the disaster capitalism playbook.

Our only real protection is to remove the investment bankers like Bloom from oversight over the Postal Service and to fire DeJoy before he wrecks the Postal Service for the rest of us.

America deserves a Postal Board of Governors filled with public servants who are not part of the industry that crashed our economy a decade ago and is greedy for our public assets.

The United States needs visionary leaders in government who will take on bold innovations to make our Postal Service faster and greener. We need leaders who see our rural and city post offices as vital community hubs that can provide affordable banking and other services to help us thrive.

What we don’t need is DeJoy and Bloom making us pay more for slower mail and packages, foregoing 21st century jets for trucks, outsourcing public work, and putting corporations first.

Find out more about what you can do to help protect our Postal Service and how you can join the call for DeJoy and Bloom to be removed from office here.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Lisa Graves

Lisa Graves

Lisa Graves is executive director of True North Research, which investigates and exposes those distorting American democracy and public policy. She is the leader of  BOLD ReThink, which is focused on responding to the Powell Memo and advancing bold alternatives. The former executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy, she served in that role from 2009 to 2017. Previously, Graves was Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice in the Office of Legal Policy/Policy Development and served as Chief Counsel for Nominations for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee for Senator Patrick Leahy.

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