On Thursday, President Trump attacked Amazon, a company he has long targeted thanks to its ownership by Jeff Bezos, the owner of The Washington Post. Here was Trump’s latest missive:
Now, there are plenty of tech companies Trump could rightly target — most obviously, social media companies like Facebook, which are getting spanked by both the Right (for discrimination against conservatives) and by the Left (for alleged privacy violations). But he’s chosen Amazon out of personal pique with Bezos.
Virtually all of the claims in this tweet are wrong, however.
First, Amazon pays state taxes in 45 states plus the District of Columbia. The law doesn’t require companies without a physical nexus in a state to pay taxes in that state, but Amazon does anyway; they also pay property taxes on their facilities in various states. According to CNN.com, Amazon likely pays “billions in sales taxes for various states.”
In any case, why would Trump be stumping for higher taxes on profitable companies? He’s supposed to be a free market guy, right? But not really. He just likes some companies and doesn’t like others. If Amazon produced steel, presumably he’d set up tariffs in their benefit. But they’re a web-based company that sells products all over the United States, and their owner doesn’t like him. So screw those guys.
Trump is also wrong about the post office. Amazon may be the only company keeping the U.S. Postal Service afloat — many companies now ship via FedEx. Amazon doesn’t have a sweetheart deal with the post office — it pays the normal bulk rate.
Finally, Trump may be right about Amazon competing other businesses out of the market. But that’s always true. Web-based businesses are cheaper than brick and mortar. Is Trump against web-based businesses? He wouldn’t be president without them (see, e.g., his own militant case for using Twitter).
Here’s the bottom line: Amazon is an incredible American success story. They’re efficient, and they bring consumers what they want. Trump has no business attacking them for engaging in perfectly legal activity.