US Postal Service gets whacked with a $1.3 billion loss as it struggles to keep up with Amazon

Joe Ciolli
May. 11, 2018, 8:16 AM 46,190The US Postal Service reported a total net loss of $1.3 billion in the second quarter. It lost $562 million a year ago.
The USPS posted a controllable loss of $656 million in the second quarter, compared with income of $12 million for the same period a year ago. This is an important number because it factors in expenses such as wage increases.
The losses are surprising when you consider package volume increased 5%.
The USPS largely attributed its downward profitability shift to increased compensation costs, suggesting that the company is scrambling to keep up with competition at the peril of its bottom line.The US Postal Service is headed in the wrong direction.
It posted a controllable loss of $656 million in the second quarter, compared with income of $12 million for the same period a year ago. The USPS also incurred a total net loss of $1.3 billion, compared to the $562 million loss it saw in the second quarter of 2017. Those drastic slips are likely to overshadow USPS’s revenue rising 1.4%, to $1.75 billion, on a year-over-year basis.
Perhaps even more troublesome is that the USPS posted such a large loss during a period in which package volumes increased by 5%.
While that uptick most likely explains the $364 million increase in compensation expenses due to what it describes as “additional hours incurred to support the labor-intensive package business as well as contractual wage adjustments,” it also raises the question of why the volume surge wasn’t able to bridge the controllable-income gap.One possible explanation for the wage jump is that the USPS is doing everything in its power to compete with Amazon— including offering workers more hours — at the expense of profitability.
This development is sure to catch the eye of President Donald Trump, who in a tweetstorm earlier this year attacked Amazon for what he says it’s doing to the USPS. In the past, Trump has mentioned changing the company’s tax treatment or going after it on antitrust grounds.
“I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election,” Trump tweeted on March 29. “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!”
Amazon’s stock climbed 0.2% in premarket trading and is up 38% this year.

 

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New layoffs show GOP tax scam benefits Wall Street, not Main Street

By Dan Desai Martin –
May 11, 2018  Republicans promised their tax scam would benefit workers, but tech giant Qualcomm is laying off 1,500 employees while lining the pockets of its Wall Street investors.
Despite the promise from Republicans that their tax scam would dramatically grow the economy, more than 1,500 Californians are set to lose their jobs with technology company Qualcomm.
One group that doesn’t have to worry is Wall Street investors, as Qualcomm also announced a massive stock buyback initiative. In other words, rich corporate investors are set to profit, while workers in San Diego and San Jose are out of luck.
When the Republicans passed their tax scam, it was sold as “rocket fuel” for the economy.
Two California Republicans who voted for the bill — Reps. Mimi Walters and Steve Knight — echoed those promises. Walters boasted the tax bill would “generate significant economic growth.” Knight declared it would be “a tax code that puts American families first.”
Just a couple months after the bill passed, Speaker Paul Ryan infamously boasted about a high school secretary whose paycheck had increased by $1.50 a week as evidence of the tax scam’s supposed success.
But the empty rhetoric means little to workers who will soon receive a pink slip. The layoffs — 289 in San Jose, and 1,231 in San Diego — are part of an effort by the multinational company to trim $1 billion in costs, according to CNN.
When the bill was moving through Congress, critics warned that corporations would not use the massive kickbacks from the bill to invest in workers, but would instead use the cash to enrich shareholders.
“Democratic lawmakers who have been critical of the GOP bill have claimed it would be used for such things as share buybacks to enrich shareholders, rather than for capital expenditures or improving worker pay,” CNBC noted at the time.
Qualcomm proved the critics right.
Not even a month after announcing the massive layoffs, Qualcomm announced $10 billion stock buyback plan. In its announcement, the priority of the company could not be clearer: “Consistent with our commitment to return capital to our stockholders, we are pleased that our Board has approved a new stock repurchase authorization.”
Stock buybacks are used by companies to boost the price of their stock, thus benefitting wealthy investors and executives with lucrative stock options. Rather than invest in workers, Qualcomm joins other companies in lining the pockets of investors.
“Share buybacks in 2018 have averaged $4.8 billion a day, double the pace for the same period last year, according to market data firm TrimTabs,” reports CNBC. Some pharmaceutical companies are increasing the prices of their medicine while at the same time lavishing Wall Street investors with stock buybacks.
Republicans made big promises around the tax scam, but the reality doesn’t match the hype. Job growth isn’t booming and wages continue to grow at the same rate as before the bill became law.
Wealthy corporations and rich Wall Street investors are growing even more wealthy. For the rest of America, the only thing growing is our national deficit — to the tune of more than $1 trillion.
CNN is right: “Shareholders, not workers, are far bigger direct winners from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.”

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Donald Trump owns the Republican Party, so candidates are scrambling to be mini-Trumps

Laura Clawson   Daily Kos Staff
Wednesday May 02, 2018 · 11:54 AM EDT

Republicans in competitive primaries are competitively clinging to Donald Trump, striving to show that they support and have always supported Trump more than their rivals, while posturing as Trump-like. Here’s why:
“No other person, group or issue has the gravitational pull on Republican primary voters that Donald Trump commands,” Senate Leadership Fund president Steven Law wrote in a September 2017 memo, after the Alabama primary. “Republican voters are becoming more attached to Trump than they are to the party,” Law continued, citing an NBC News poll that found 58 percent of Republicans consider themselves Trump supporters to 38 percent who see themselves as GOP party supporters.
Trump over party. Party over principle. Basic human decency way way down the list from Trump or the Republican Party.

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GOP-led House panel officially clears Trump in Russia probe

By: TOM LoBIANCO and CHAD DAY, Associated Press
Updated: Apr 27, 2018 12:42 PM EDT
FILE- In this March 6, 2018, file photo, President Donald Trump listens to a question during a meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. Trump plans to meet with representatives from the…
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Republican-led House intelligence committee on Friday officially declared the end of its Russia probe, saying in its final report that it found no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in the 2016 presidential campaign.
The report’s conclusion is fiercely opposed by committee Democrats, who say the committee did not interview enough witnesses or gather enough evidence to support its finding.
The investigation began with bipartisan promise but ultimately succumbed to factional squabbling. Republicans had already announced the main findings last month. An investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller is ongoing, as are probes led by the Senate intelligence and judiciary committees.
The House panel did find that Russia sought to sow discord in the U.S. through cyberattacks and social media. Some portions of the public report are redacted for national security reasons. Republicans say they will pressure intelligence agencies to be able to release more information.
Trump has repeatedly said there was “no collusion.”
In a statement, Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, who has been leading the investigation, said he was “extremely disappointed with the overzealous redactions” made by the intelligence agencies. He said many of the blacked out details include information already public such as witness names and previously declassified information.
Conaway said the committee had pledged to be “as transparent as possible” with the report.
“I don’t believe the information we’re releasing today meets that standard, which is why my team and I will continue to challenge the IC’s many unnecessary redactions with the hopes of releasing more of the report in the coming months,” he said.

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