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Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, claimed without evidence that President Donald Trump “wants to cut off money for the post office so they cannot deliver mail-in ballots.”
The perpetually cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service has been hurt by COVID-19 and is negotiating with the Treasury Department for a $10 billion loan, which the president has said he will not approve without changes in USPS pricing and leadership.
But a USPS spokesman told us its current financial condition will have no impact on its ability to deliver mail-in ballots this year.
Biden floated his election conspiracy at a June 23 virtual fundraising event with former President Barack Obama. The former vice president made his remarks about the Postal Service when he was offering suggestions on how to “keep our democracy strong,” including registering to vote and volunteering to be poll workers.
Biden then said this: “Making sure we tell the American public what the president is doing, saying he wants to cut off money for the post office so they cannot deliver mail-in ballots.”
We can find no instance of Trump saying he wants to thwart the Postal Service’s ability to deliver mail-in ballots, and the Biden campaign hasn’t provided us with any.
It is true that Trump has been waging a relentless and frequently misleading campaign against states expanding the use of mail-in ballots for this year’s elections, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
It is also true that the Postal Service is losing more money than usual because of COVID-19 and has requested an infusion of cash, and it is not clear to what extent Trump will help. During negotiations with Congress over the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, the Trump administration reportedly opposed Democratic efforts to provide funding to help bail out the U.S. mail system.
But Trump has been a frequent critic of the Postal Service, and there’s no evidence that his current stance toward the U.S. postal system is related to the presidential election.
The CARES Act, which Trump signed March 27, didn’t give the Postal Service everything it wanted, but the law provided two forms of relief: deferred payments of the employer share of Social Security and the ability to borrow up to $10 billion from the Treasury Department.
The Postal Service, in its most recent quarterly financial report, said deferring Social Security payments will save the organization an estimated $1.6 billion this year.
Obtaining access to the $10 billion line of credit will be trickier.
Trump’s criticism of the Postal Service and how much it charges Amazon isn’t new. The president has had a long-running feud with Amazon’s CEO and founder, Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post — a frequent target of Trump’s false claims of “fake news.”
Although he has been criticized for trying to kill or privatize the Postal Service, Trump has acknowledged its unique place in the United States. “[Y]ou could never replicate the post office,” he said at an April 29 press conference. “The post office is massive. But they’ve got places and little sections of our country that no company could ever go to. That took hundreds of years to build the post office.”
The president’s latest critical comments about the Postal Service are in line with statements he has made for years.
Also, the Postal Service told us that the financial impact of COVID-19 isn’t as dire as it initially projected, and that the organization will be able to deliver mail-in ballots this year.
In a sign of its improved condition, the Postal Service reported a net loss of a whopping $1.2 billion in April, but a more modest $225 million in May, according to its monthly financial reports.
Overall, USPS has reported a net loss of $3.1 billion from March through May – about $459 million more than it had for that same period in 2019, according to its unaudited monthly financial reports.
FactCheck.org is a non-partisan, nonprofit consumer advocate for voters. It monitors the factual accuracy of what is said by many major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates and news releases.