Trump says Amazon’s ‘post office scam’ must end
WASHINGTON — President Trump has again attacked online retailer Amazon, calling its business deal with the US Postal Service to deliver packages a money-losing agreement that hurts American taxpayers.
Federal regulators have found the contract with Amazon to be profitable, and analysts say the large volume of packages shipped by the retailer is helping to keep the Postal Service in business.
In tweets Saturday, Trump said ‘‘the US post office will lose $1.50 on average for each package it delivers for Amazon. That amounts to billions of dollars.”
He added: ‘‘If the PO ‘increased its parcel rates, Amazon’s shipping costs would rise by $2.6 billion.’ This post office scam must stop. Amazon must pay real costs (and taxes) now!’’
Amazon has been a continual target of Trump’s anger. The company’s founder, Jeff Bezos, owns The Washington Post, which Trump has labeled as a producer of ‘‘fake news’’ because the paper has reported unfavorable developments during his campaign and presidency.
In Saturday’s tweets, Trump accused Amazon of using the ‘‘fake Washington Post’’ as a lobbyist. The Post and Bezos have responded to Trump’s lobbyist claims in the past by declaring that Bezos is not involved in any journalistic decisions at the paper. Amazon and the Post declined to comment Saturday.
An increase in shipping rates could hurt Amazon, which sends packages via the post office, FedEx, UPS, and other services.
The full details of the agreement between Amazon and the US Postal Service are unknown. The agency is independently operated, and makes confidential deals with retailers.
David Vernon, an analyst at Bernstein Research who tracks the shipping industry, estimated in 2015 that the USPS handled 40 percent of Amazon’s volume the previous year, Bloomberg News reported. He estimated at the time that Amazon pays the postal service $2 per package, which is about half what it would pay UPS or FedEx.
Although the US Postal Service has lost money for 11 years, package delivery — which has been a bright spot for the service — is not the reason.
Boosted by e-commerce, the Postal Service has seen double-digit increases in revenue from delivering packages, but that hasn’t been enough to offset pension and health care costs as well as declines in first-class letters and marketing mail. Together, letters and marketing mail make up more than two-thirds of postal revenue.
In arguing that the Postal Service is losing money on delivering packages for Amazon, Trump appears to be citing some Wall Street studies that argue the Postal Service’s formula for calculating its costs is outdated.
A 2017 analysis by Citigroup did conclude that the Postal Service was charging below market rates as a whole on parcels. Still, federal regulators have reviewed the Amazon contract with the Postal Service each year and determined it to be profitable.
A spokesman for the US Postal Service declined to comment.
Trump is spending Easter Weekend at his resort in Palm Beach, Fla., and went to the nearby Trump International Golf Club early Saturday.
In a separate development Saturday, Trump blasted California Governor Jerry Brown for his pardon of five ex-convicts facing deportation, including two who fled the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia with their families four decades ago.
In a tweet, Trump referred to Brown as ‘‘Moonbeam,’’ the nickname a newspaper columnist gave the governor in the 1970s.
Trump then listed the ex-convicts’ crimes before they were pardoned Friday. They include misdemeanor domestic violence, drug possession, and kidnapping and robbery.
Trump wrote: ‘‘Is this really what the great people of California want?’’
A spokesman for Brown responded to a request for comment with more information about the five men but did not directly address Trump’s criticism.
In a news release about the pardons Friday, the governor’s office said that ‘‘those granted pardons all completed their sentences years ago and the majority were convicted of drug-related or other nonviolent crimes.’’
‘‘Pardons are not granted unless they are earned,’’ the governor’s office said.
Brown’s pardons marked the third time the Democrat has intervened on behalf of immigrants who were deported or faced deportation over convictions.
Brown’s pardons don’t automatically stop deportation proceedings, but eliminate the convictions on which authorities base their deportation.
Trump has been criticized for his own pardon, that of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted last year of a misdemeanor contempt charge for flouting the courts in carrying out his signature immigration patrols.