Let’s Call Trump’s Amazon-Bashing For What It Is: An Attack On The First Amendment
So far, the Postmaster General has successfully resisted efforts from Trump to raise Amazon’s shipping rates by 100%.
But let’s say Trump is completely right: Amazon has too-sweet-a-deal with the post office, their rates should be doubled because U.S. taxpayers are unfairly subsidizing the internet giant, leaving brick-and-mortar retail flailing helplessly by no fault of their own. There’s been tons of analysis and even former close Trump advisers presenting strong evidence that he’s wrong. Even that Amazon has contributed greatly to the postal service becoming more innovative and efficient. But for the next minute or two, let’s just say he’s right.
1. The U.S. government uses taxpayer money to subsidize all kinds of private companies: starting with energy companies who have become masters at coming up with fancy ways to underpay royalties on oil and gas leases on public land. And what about Trump’s continued efforts to use huge amounts of taxpayer money (West Virginia alone wants $4–5-billion) to subsidize coal companies on the grounds it’s a matter of national security? (How?)
2. The deals between the U.S. Postal Service and Amazon seem very close to the type of public/private partnerships Trump seems eager to promote in almost every other case. (Although his support of this concept does waver from time-to-time). Still, if Jeff Bezos did not own the Washington Post, and had more of an inclination to genuflect to Trump, we have a feeling Trump might point to this deal as a blueprint for a lot of what he wants to do in other areas: like handing over building and operating roads and airports to private companies. Arrangements where the role of the U.S. government would precisely be to boost private business by sweetening the pot with taxpayer money.
3. Trump is hardly a champion of brick-and-mortar retail. He made one of his first big impressions as a developer tearing down the old Bonwit-Teller department store to make room for Trump Tower. Not only that, he famously destroyed artwork on the outside of the old building after promising he would carefully remove it and donate it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But one day, without warning, the limestone reliefs were destroyed on site. Trump later saying saving them would’ve delayed construction and cost $500,000. Trump Tower now stands in that location.
One footnote: while Trump has now called out Amazon and the Washington Post hundreds of times, curiously he seldom mentions Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos by name. In fact, one of the only mentions we could find came long before Trump was running for President. This is the Tweet, which oddly seems to speak to the current situation from both sides: