President Donald Trump late Thursday signed an executive order creating a task force to study the U.S. Postal Service business model, a move that came amid criticism of Amazon and its owner Jeff Bezos.
Trump said in the order that the Postal Service was on “an unsustainable financial path,” and “must be restructured to prevent a taxpayer-funded bailout.”
The task force, to be chaired by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, will examine USPS financial woes and come up with solutions to make it profitable. It will have 120 days to submit a report with recommendations.
The USPS, which is supposed to be an independent, self-sustaining agency, has been financially struggling for years and reportedly has lost $65 billion since the 2008 recession, Reuters reported.
Fixing the budget hole isn’t expected to be easy as the agency is heavily regulated. Any postal rate increase must be approved by Congress and a 2006 law forces USPS to pre-fund decades worth of retiree health benefits.
News of the task force came amid Trump’s rhetorical war on Amazon, in which he has accused the e-commerce company of using the USPS to prop up its business at the expense of the taxpayer.
“I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election. Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!” Trump tweeted in March.
According to Axios, Trump is “obsessed” with Amazon and wondered aloud about its tax treatment and whether the administration could go after the e-commerce behemoth using antitrust and competition law.
But many commentators and pundits expressed concern with the attacks on Amazon, suggesting that the USPS is actually financially benefitting from the partnership with Amazon. According to the 2017 USPS financial statement, the declining revenue of mail delivery is being offset by shipping and package delivery.
Trump has fired back at his critics, saying “Only fools, or worse, are saying that our money losing Post Office makes money with Amazon” and has pledged that, “this will be changed.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.