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The President Versus The Post Office

Rally goers gather at a post office to protest the Trump administration's handling of the US Postal System at the Rally to Save the Post Office on August 22, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Rich Fury/Getty Images for MoveOn)
Rally goers gather at a post office to protest the Trump administration's handling of the US Postal System at the Rally to Save the Post Office on August 22, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Rich Fury/Getty Images for MoveOn)

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has maintained under oath that his changes to the U.S. Postal Service have nothing to do with President Trump’s reelection. We talk about why it’s still significant that the president is going after a public institution, and the state of our democracy.


Lisa Rein, reporter at the Washington Post covering federal agencies, including the Postal Service. (@Reinlwapo)

Nicholas Florko, Washington correspondent for STAT, reporting on the intersection of politics and health policy. (@NicholasFlorko)

Susan Stokes, professor of political science and director of the Chicago Center on Democracy at the University of Chicago. Co-director of Bright Line Watch, an academic initiative to monitor democratic practices in the U.S. and call attention to threats to American democracy. (@UChicagoSSD)

From The Reading List

The Washington Post: How Trump, Mnuchin and DeJoy edged the Postal Service into a crisis” — “Soon after Louis DeJoy arrived at the U.S. Postal Service’s L’Enfant Plaza headquarters in mid-June, Mark Dimondstein, the veteran leader of the agency’s largest union, called to get on the new postmaster general’s schedule. He had urgent matters to discuss: The coronavirus pandemic was forcing widespread absenteeism among his 200,000 members. Protective gear was running low. The post office needed a plan to handle a historic crush of mail-in ballots.”

STAT: Drug makers rebut Trump tweet that FDA ‘deep state’ is delaying Covid-19 vaccines and drugs” — “In a tweet Saturday morning, President Donald Trump accused the Food and Drug Administration of delaying the development of coronavirus vaccines and drugs. ‘The deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics,’ the president wrote. ‘Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd. Must focus on speed, and saving lives!'”

CNN: 6 takeaways from the postmaster general’s Senate hearing” — “Postmaster General Louis DeJoy defended the US Postal Service’s ability to handle an influx of mail-in ballots this November and downplayed the impact of changes he’s made since taking over the Postal Service in June. Democrats in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said they were skeptical, demanding that DeJoy provide Congress with the data he’s used to make changes to USPS operations.”

New York Magazine: Americans Must Defend the Postal Service Like Our Democracy Depends on It” — “The post office was the midwife of America’s democracy, and the first triumph of its federal state. By facilitating communication between every far-flung, culturally disparate settlement within the early republic, the agency formed the material basis for a national consciousness. By subsidizing the dissemination of newspapers, the post office enabled mass civic engagement and the formation of modern political parties. In the early 19th century, the institution embodied America’s most egalitarian impulses and ambitious conceptions of the role of government. At that time, Western European states ran their postal services as revenue-generating enterprises, and therefore denied mail delivery to communities that could not be served at a profit. America’s post office, by contrast, was conceived as a ‘service to the public and to national unification,’ and thus provided mail to Americans in remote, rural areas as an entitlement.”

Politico: “As Trump pushes Covid vaccine, FDA soothes fears” — “FDA chief Stephen Hahn is stepping up efforts to convince Americans that his agency won’t sacrifice the safety or efficacy of a coronavirus vaccine for the sake of speed — even as President Donald Trump is urging the agency to move faster on Covid-19 shots and treatments.”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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