Americans love the United States Postal Service. An April Pew Research Center survey found that 91 percent of respondents had a favorable view of USPS. No other federal agency is rated so highly.
That would explain why everyone is so angry about the dismantling of the postal service by Donald Trump and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.
Well, almost everyone.
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee chairman—and Wisconsin Republican—Ron Johnson heads a committee that should be getting to the bottom of allegations of political scheming on the part of the Trump administration to slow down the mail in advance of a Covid-19 election where most people expect to cast their ballots by mail. He could be a hero. Instead, he’s praising DeJoy for the assault of a national treasure.
Performing his usual role as the president’s political valet, Johnson greeted the postmaster general at a hearing on Friday with lavish praise and a nutty conspiracy theory. “I have no doubt the Democrats are ginning these issues up into something that they are not, a very false narrative… designed to extract a political advantage,” chirped Johnson, before soothingly telling the scandal-plagued postmaster general, “I am very sorry you are on the targeting end of this political hit piece.”
Pronouncing himself to be “highly supportive” of efforts to trash sorting machines and blue mailboxes, cut overtime, and more generally reduce service, Johnson claimed, “It is Postmaster DeJoy’s commendable attempt to reduce those excess costs that are now being cynically used to create this false political narrative.”
The problem with Johnson’s conspiracy theory is that DeJoy’s mangling of the postal service has already caused such a national outcry—from Democrats and honest Republicans—that the postmaster general has suspended some of the most egregious abuses. And, of course, President Trump has acknowledged to Fox Business Network that he’s been messing with postal service funding because “they need that money in order to have the Post Office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots.”
So, once again, Johnson is playing the fool on Trump’s behalf.
Thankfully, responsible representatives are treating the crisis seriously. Congressman Mark Pocan is leading a congressional effort to hold DeJoy to account. With Massachusetts Democrat Karen Clark and 88 other House members, Pocan has written a letter asking that the US Postal Service Board of Governors immediately remove DeJoy.
“Mr. DeJoy has used his time as Postmaster General to sabotage the United States Postal Service (USPS) and he must be removed immediately to protect this critical institution,” they point out. “Despite recent claims by Mr. DeJoy that implementation of certain changes may be delayed, he has already done considerable damage to the institution and we believe his conflicts of interest are insurmountable.”
Those conflicts of interest are political and personal. “Mr. DeJoy holds a significant investment in his former company, XPO Logistics, a USPS contractor. Since becoming Postmaster General, he has also invested tens of thousands of dollars in stock options in another USPS contractor and competitor,” notes the letter. “Both investments represent a tremendous conflict of interest. We cannot trust that Mr. DeJoy will act in the best interest of the USPS or the people who rely on it.”
DeJoy is also a major donor to Trump’s campaign and to Republican causes, which is as good an explanation as any for why Ron Johnson is praising the worst postmaster general in American history.