Trump makes another attempt to blame Amazon for post office problems

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump

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President Donald Trump on Monday repeated his belief that Amazon is to blame for the U.S. Postal Service’s demise. 

“Amazon and other companies like it, they come and they drop all of their mail into a post office,” Trump said in an interview with “Fox & Friends.” “They drop packages into the post office by the thousands and then they say, ‘Here, you deliver them.’ We lose $3 and $4 a package on average. We lose massive amounts of money.”

The president was asked about concerns that the Trump administration is interfering with the post office in order to impact voting in the November presidential election. The Postal Service has removed hundreds of mail-processing machines across the country and warned dozens of states that it may not be able to process mail-in ballots in time to be counted in the Nov. 3 presidential election. At the same time, it faces widespread mail delays and has seen its financial woes increase as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is calling the House back into session, cutting lawmakers’ summer recess short as concerns grow among Democrats over whether the Trump White House is trying to undermine the Postal Service ahead of the election.

Trump said the post office could solve its financial issues by raising delivery rates to offset alleged delivery costs fueled by online retailers. “This guy is supposed to be so wealthy, so let him pay for it,” Trump added, appearing to refer to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. 

Representatives from Amazon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. 

The comments echoed similar remarks by Trump in April, along with a series of attacks in 2018, when Trump criticized Amazon for costing the post office “billions.”

Trump is right that the Postal Service is losing money, but Amazon and other internet e-commerce companies aren’t necessarily to blame for that. Previous analysis conducted by CNBC found Amazon may be saving the post office from financial demise, due to growth in package shipping from online retailers like Amazon. Amazon also relies on a range of carriers to deliver packages, such as UPS and FedEx, and is increasingly building its own network of contracted delivery partners, which now total 1,300 firms.

A major factor behind the post office’s continuing shortfall is a requirement that the USPS fund health benefits for its workers, which costs more than $5 billion annually. Other worker-related expenses, such as workers’ compensation, fluctuate from year to year based on “changes in actuarial assumptions, such as interest and inflation rates, and employee and retiree demographics,” as the USPS said in its 2019 annual report.

The Postal Service has benefited from a surge in package deliveries to Americans who remain indoors because of the pandemic, but it has experienced continued declines in first-class and business mail, according to its latest financial results.

— CNBC’s Jordan Novet contributed to this story.

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