Remember the cry of, “We need a businessman in office!” when Trump was picking his way through the GOP field in 2015 and into 2016? Donald Trump managed to sell his supporters on the notion he’s a business genius, and it certainly helped him win the nomination and the general election.
The problem is, it was all a ruse. Trump is undoubtedly great for marketing his name. Over the years, he’s managed to make a lot of money slapping his name on buildings and other products, and of course, his role on The Apprentice only managed to elevate the myth of his business acumen. However, as we’ve witnessed since his time in office, Trump’s knowledge of business, trade, taxes and the economy is pretty limited in scope.
Trump sees everything through the scope of winning and losing – as if everything is a zero-sum game. If the United States has a trade deficit with China, that’s “losing” according to Trump. He does the same when it comes to Amazon. It’s no secret Trump hates Amazon, and that’s because unlike his personal story of being born into wealth and privilege, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was born to a teenage mother and grew up a middle-class kid in Texas. Now he’s one of the wealthiest people in the world, and there’s nothing Trump likes less than somebody who has more money than him.
Bezos also owns The Washington Post and that chaps Trump’s butt as much as knowing Bezos has a whole hell of a lot more money than him. Trump tweeted the following recently:
I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election. 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 29, 2018
While we are on the subject, it is reported that the U.S. Post Office will lose $1.50 on average for each package it delivers for Amazon. That amounts to Billions of Dollars. The Failing N.Y. Times reports that “the size of the company’s lobbying staff has ballooned,” and that…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 31, 2018
…does not include the Fake Washington Post, which is used as a “lobbyist” and should so REGISTER. If the P.O. “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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 31, 2018
Let’s break this down a bit shall we and show how Trump doesn’t know what he’s talking about:
1. The Postal Service does not “lose” $1.50 each package it delivers for Amazon – This goes back to Trump’s myopic view of business and how he sees it only through the lens of “winning and losing.” Trump has a long history of ripping off vendors and bilking others that he always assumes somebody gets a raw deal. Yes, Amazon gets a break because they’re a bulk shipper, but that’s no different than any other shipper. The Postal Services losses are tied up heavily in pensions and benefits. Anybody who knows the slightest about business recognizes the revenue the USPS collects from Amazon helps them, not hurts them. Just like Trump did when idiotically imposing tariffs he thinks the “problem” (of which there is none) will be “solved” merely by the USPS raising rates it charges Amazon. Of course, one of the consequences of that move would be for the consumer to pay the additional costs. Amazon would not suffer. Aside from that, as Amazon continues to build out its logistical operations, they will start using the post office less and less over time. What will Trump complain about at that point?
2. Amazon does not own The Washington Post; Jeff Bezos does – This is a little dishonestly wrought rhetorical trick meant to make it seem as if the Post acts as an arm of Amazon which it does not. To say the Post must register as a lobbyist is absurd and Trump uses it because the rubes will follow along with whatever drivel escapes his fat fingers on Twitter or his big mouth at a rally.
3. Yes, Amazon does pay taxes – First of all, the days of buying stuff on Amazon (outside of third-party vendors) and not paying sales taxes are over. Amazon maintains a presence in almost every state. As they built out their distribution network, the opened more shipping centers. Even in states where it does not maintain a presence, Amazon said last year they were in fact, going to start charging and collecting sales tax. Amazon also pays property taxes on the distribution centers it owns, its retail stores and the Whole Food Stores it acquired last year. That Amazon had revenues of $106 billion in 2017 goes to show they are collecting billions in sales taxes for states as well.
4. No, Amazon is not putting “many thousands of retailers out of business.” – Yes, the online retailer grabbed 44 percent of all online retail commerce in 2017, but overall, Amazon accounted for only 4 percent of retail sales in 2017. Walmart, Kroger, Costco, The Home Depot, CVS and Walgreens all had higher retail sales than Amazon in 2016. Companies are not going out of business because of Amazon but because of the changing retail landscape. Businesses that have adapted to that landscape are still doing well. Others are not. The “Amazon is putting companies out of business!” is the same fear-mongering nonsense many said about Walmart ten years ago.
People may think it is nothing but bluster but it’s not. Again, the White House said Trump’s tweets are official statements from the president. That has implications.
Hopefully Larry Kudlow will talk some sense into Trump.