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Trump Fires Another Round at Amazon Over Postal Rates, Taxes
02 April 2018, 12:47 | Ruby West
Trump loads another tweet into the chamber — and fires on Amazon again
On Feb. 15, speaking at a hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee, Mnuchin said he had spoken personally with Trump about online taxation, and that the president "does feel strongly" that sales tax should be applied to internet purchases. "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!" By that measure, a potential case against Amazon, with its reputation for lowering prices in markets it enters, is less likely. Or is it something to do with the CEO and founder of Amazon, billionaire Jeff Bezos?
On Thursday, Trump tweeted about the internet giant again, saying "I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election".
The reality, however, is that Amazon has little to do with why USPS has been bleeding red ink.
"The president has said many times before he is always looking to create a level playing field for all businesses, and this is no different", she said.
The clarification, however, wasn't enough to reassure Amazon investors.
Another administration official confirmed to Reuters that Trump has been complaining about Amazon in private, believing the company has become too powerful.
In other words, the changes being called for by Trump to shipping policies may actually be more damaging to Amazon than to the distressed Postal Service, which handles some 40% of the tech giant's shipping, according to a study cited by The New York Times.
Trump's criticism did not diminish USA fund managers' long-term enthusiasm for Amazon, whose stock has risen more than five-fold in the last five years.
In Ireland, we're used to hearing claims of tech firms and multinationals not paying enough tax and it's a debate that rages here in the USA as well.
Deputy press secretary Raj Shah refuted claims the president's claims are part of a media vendetta and told Politico that Trump viewed the two as separate issues: "A lot of people have made this, with respect to Amazon, about personalities and the CEO at Amazon - we're talking about Jeff Bezos here". Since April 2017, Amazon has collected sales taxes in all states that levy one.
The other prong to Trump's criticism concerns the U.S. Postal Service. USPS declined to comment on Trump's tweet.
While the Postal Service has lost money for more than a decade, it swung to a profit this year largely because online shopping has led to growth in its package-delivery business.
It's true that traditional, high street retailers are suffering in the age of online shopping, but Amazon alone can not be blamed for this.
"This is something we have never seen", Suresh Kotha, a professor of management at the University of Washington's Foster School of Business, said of Trump's reported comments.
Amazon founder Bezos also privately owns the Washington Post, which won a Pulitzer Prize previous year for its investigation of Trump's donations to charities.
If this is a personal grudge, however, it probably goes much deeper than rich list envy. Bezos also owns the Washington Post, an outlet Trump has repeatedly derided as "phony" and "fake news". Its journalists frequently break stories that are critical of the White House. And Amazon signed a deal in 2014 with the post office to deliver packages on Sundays. The almost $700 billion (market cap) retailer has more than a half million employees, maybe two-thirds or more of U.S. households are Prime members, and the company sports a plus-60% approval rating.
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