I guess we can all stop asking whether Donald Trump is blocking money for the U.S. Postal Service specifically in order to stop Americans from voting by mail, because he just came out and said it. On Thursday morning, the president told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo that coronavirus relief talks with Democrats had broken down partly over their demand for Postal Service and election funding.
“They want $3.5 billion for the mail-in votes. Universal mail-in ballots. They want $25 billion—billion—for the post office. Now they need that money in order to have post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” he said. “Those are just two items. But if you don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting. Because they’re not equipped to have it.”
“Now, if we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money,” Trump said later on. “That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting. They just can’t have it.”
To the president’s credit, this is all entirely accurate. As I wrote last week, without a deal that provides more funding for the Postal Service and sets in place strict rules about how it must be used, there is no real way to be confident that mail-in voting will work smoothly this November. Mail delivery has slowed down significantly thanks to service cuts imposed by the recently appointed postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, who is a major donor to Trump and the GOP. And USPS has informed states, which are basically broke at the moment, that they will have to pay significantly higher postage rates this year if they want ballots delivered quickly. But it’s still a bit shocking to see it all discussed out in the open.
In fact, it seems to be a White House talking point. Trump made a similar comment during his Wednesday press conference. “They don’t have the money to do the universal mail-in voting. So therefore, they can’t do it, I guess,” Trump said. “Are they going to do it even if they don’t have the money?” And White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow seems to be echoing his boss:
At least we’re all clear now that only Democrats care about voting rights.
Anyway, here’s the full Fox Business transcript from Thursday, in case you need a little extra context:
Maria Bartiromo: What specifically are they pushing for that is causing a breakdown in any deals? Nancy Pelosi said that the Democrats and the White House are still miles apart on any stimulus.
Donald Trump: Well they’re right. And it’s their fault. They want $3.5 billion for something that’ll turn out to be fraudulent. That’s election money, basically. They want $3.5 billion for the mail-in votes. Universal mail-in ballots. They want $25 billion—billion—for the post office. Now they need that money in order to have post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots. Now, in the meantime, they aren’t getting there. By the way, those are just two items. But if you don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting. Because they’re not equipped to have it. And you see how bad it’s been with this Carolyn Maloney scam. She scammed her way into an election she probably lost. But they said mail-in ballots, its all mixed up. Paterson, New Jersey, same thing. Yesterday Virginia, 500,000 applications for ballots got sent to everybody, nobody even knows. Got sent to dogs. Got sent to dead people. Nobody has no idea what happened. They said, Oh we made a mistake, I’m sorry. Five hundred thousand ballots sent in Virginia. How do you feel about Virginia going in there when you have 500,000 phony ballot applicants? And this is all over.
Bartiromo: This is what’s holding up money for the American people? They want mail-in voting and they want money for the post office? This is one of the sticking points that’s holding back stimulus for Americans during this coronavirus?
Trump: That’s one of them.
Trump: That’s one of them. That’s right. Maria, how would you like to have $3.5 billion for mail-in voting. Billion! You know how much that is? Nobody has any idea, you people, Oh, you know, 3½ billion. They want $25 billion for the post office, because the post office is going to have to go to town to get these ridiculous ballots in. You know, there’s nothing wrong with getting out and voting. They voted during World War I and World War II. And they should have voter ID, because the Democrats scam the system. But two of the items are the post office, and $3.5 billion dollars for mail-in voting. Now, if we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money. That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting. They just can’t have it. So, you know.
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