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Tax cuts might be the name of the game for the Trump administration, but the president has no intention of letting Amazon's Jeff Bezos off easy. With a tweet early Thursday following an Axios report that the president is "obsessed" with the company, Trump's anti-Amazon sentiment bubbled up once more.
Trump's Amazon ire is nothing new, but seeing it surface through tweets means that going after the company might again be at the top of his mind. Still, historically, that doesn't indicate a policy shift is in order.
As Politico reported, the White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah dismissed the assumption that Trump versus Bezos is a war of personalities or an issue entangled with the president's distaste for the Bezos-owned Washington Post.
"You have a huge company that’s done amazing things, in Amazon, spring up in a very short amount of time, and, really, tax policy and other policy has to catch up to that so that way, those who are competing with Amazon are on a level playing field," Shah said.
"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. But this is really about policy."
Trump's tweets reveal a different story, one that conflates Amazon, Bezos and The Washington Post and frequently rails against all three.
Remarkably, if you go back far enough, Trump seemed to implicitly praise Bezos's business acumen by quoting him.
The criticisms didn't really ramp up until 2015, after which time he became preoccupied by Amazon's deal with the USPS and the financial relationship between Bezos, Amazon and the paper.
While the USPS/Amazon deal has reportedly come up with Trump plenty of times, the president appears to be sticking with his impression of the situation. "It's been explained to him in multiple meetings that his perception is inaccurate and that the post office actually makes a ton of money from Amazon," a source told Axios.
In reality, although Amazon could exit the deal and make arrangements with other delivery services, the deal is likely more essential for the USPS. The postal service loses money every year (and continues to do so), but parcel post deliveries (i.e. Amazon orders) are one revenue stream on its way up into 2017. In 2017, revenue from package deliveries went up 11.8 percent as first-class mail, historically the real money-maker, declined.
As a source told Axios, Trump could leverage antitrust or competition law to go after Amazon, but that policy has yet to materialize. Until then, his recent volley toward Amazon appears to be just another verbal rant against a perceived enemy; this one just happens to own the sometimes second most valuable company in the world.