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Amazon shares fall after report Trump wants to curb its power

Amazon shares fall after report Trump wants to curb its power

Postby smix » Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:46 pm

Amazon shares fall after report Trump wants to curb its power
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-amaz ... SKBN1H42HG
Category: Politics
Published: March 28, 2018

Description: WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc shares fell as much as 7.4 percent on Wednesday, briefly wiping about $53.6 billion from its market value, after news website Axios reported that U.S. President Donald Trump is obsessed with the world’s largest online retailer and wants to rein in its growing power. Trump has talked about using antitrust law to “go after” the company because he is worried about mom-and-pop retailers being put out of business by Amazon, Axios reported, citing five sources it said had discussed the issue with him. Trump also wants to change Amazon’s tax treatment, the report said, an issue the president raised publicly last year when he called for an internet tax for online retailers, even though Amazon already collects sales tax on items it sells direct to customers. In response to questions about the Axios report, a White House official said no specific policy changes related to Amazon were known, but it was always looking at different options on a range of policy issues. Another administration official confirmed to Reuters that Trump has been complaining about Amazon in private, believing the company has become too powerful. The official said Trump links this to Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos’ private ownership of the Washington Post, which he has called “fake news” and effectively a mouthpiece for Bezos’ business interests. Amazon could not be reached immediately for comment.
FAVORITE TARGET
Trump has criticized the big e-commerce company over taxes and jobs in the past, without offering evidence. Tech stocks are already under pressure after Facebook Inc acknowledged this month that user data had been improperly harvested by a consultancy. “Capitol Hill wants Facebook’s blood, but President Trump isn’t interested. Instead, the tech behemoth Trump wants to go after is Amazon,” Axios reported. Changing Amazon’s tax treatment or using antitrust law to thwart Amazon would be difficult. “In my many years of being an antitrust lawyer, I’m not aware of a scenario where an individual company was singled out by the president of the United States with a strong encouragement to the Department of Justice to file an antitrust case,” said Jeffrey Jacobovitz of the law firm Arnall Golden Gregory LLP. Michael Pachter, a former tax attorney who is now a financial analyst with Wedbush Securities, said Trump’s information about Amazon’s tax status is likely outdated. “I think somehow he’s convinced himself that they don’t collect sales tax,” Pachter said, adding that “When Trump came into office, they were already collecting sales tax” in every state that has one. The stock, which fell as low as $1,386.17, was last down 4.2 percent at $1,434.54. “With Facebook and regulatory worries, the last thing nervous tech investors wanted to see was news that Trump is targeting Bezos and Amazon over the coming months as this remains a lingering cloud over the stock and heightens the risk profile in the eyes of the Street,” GBH Insights analyst Daniel Ives said.



Trump escalates attack on Amazon, slams it on taxes, shipping
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-amaz ... SKBN1H51PY
Category: Politics
Published: March 29, 2018

Description: WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday blasted Amazon.com Inc with a list of complaints, a day after news website Axios reported that Trump wants to curb the mega retailer’s growing power using federal antitrust laws and led its shares to fall almost 5 percent. “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!” Trump said in a post on Twitter early on Thursday. Amazon founder and chairman, Jeff Bezos, also privately owns the Washington Post, which won a Pulitzer Prize last year for its investigation of Trump’s donations to charities. The probe found that many of Trump’s philanthropic claims were exaggerated and often were not charitable donations. Still, White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah shot down the notion that Trump’s criticism was part of a personal grudge. “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,” he said on Thursday on the Fox News Channel. “It’s really about policy.” Shah reiterated that Trump was not making specific policy changes. “There are a number of proposals that have worked their ways through the House and the Senate or have been considered by the House and the Senate. He’d be supportive of such efforts,” he said. Trump’s claims about Amazon’s state and local tax payments have been met with skepticism. While the company was once criticized for attempting to skirt state sales taxes, it currently has a reputation as a leader in collecting the levies, which can vary from state to state. Legally pursuing Amazon could affect more than its share price, which was largely steady after Trump’s tweet. Amazon is currently in the process of establishing a $5 billion second headquarters which could bring 50,000 new jobs to the location it selects. In January, it winnowed the list of possible locations down to 20 metropolitan areas. Apart from nationwide goods deliveries, Amazon’s services include video streaming, a digital home assistant known as Alexa, and an online payments program.



Trump 'has no actions' against Amazon: White House
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-amaz ... SKBN1H52SZ
Category: Politics
Published: March 29, 2018

Description: WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump was voicing concern about Amazon.com Inc when he commented about the company on Twitter on Thursday, but the administration has no action dealing with the company at this time, the White House said. “The president has expressed his concerns with Amazon,” White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters told reporter on Air Force One en route to Ohio, where Trump was delivering a speech. “We have no actions at this time.” Trump accused Amazon.com on Thursday of not paying enough tax, taking advantage of the U.S. postal system and putting small retailers out of business, but did not present any evidence to back up his criticisms or suggest any specific actions he planned to take.



Trump adviser ties Amazon criticism to U.S. Supreme Court case
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/amazonc ... SL1N1RB1OZ
Category: Politics
Published: March 29, 2018

Description: WASHINGTON, March 29 (Reuters) - As President Donald Trump intensified his attacks on Amazon.com Inc, a White House adviser on Thursday pointed to a U.S. Supreme Court case in which the administration has intervened that could force more online retailers to collect state sales taxes. In the case to be argued on April 17, South Dakota is asking the nine justices to overturn a 1992 Supreme Court ruling that only companies with a physical presence in a state are required to collect the state’s sales tax on purchases. The Justice Department filed a brief in support of South Dakota, which lost in lower courts. Amazon is not involved in the case but the eventual ruling could have consequences for the online retailing behemoth and other e-commerce businesses. Amazon has already agreed to collect sales taxes in all 45 states that impose them on items it sells directly. South Dakota’s legal fight is with smaller e-commerce companies Wayfair Inc, Overstock.com Inc and Newegg Inc. Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told Fox Business Network’s Stuart Varney that Trump favors a “level playing field between internet venders and mom-and-pop stores,” a statement that echoes some of the rhetoric in the upcoming case. South Dakota argues that brick-and-mortar retailers suffer because they have to collect the taxes and therefore have a pricing disadvantage. Hassett focused on the fact that Amazon does not collect the taxes on sales made by third-party vendors, which is estimated to be about half of its total sales. “So for Amazon there really is a big advantage on the state sales tax because of current policy,” Hassett said. “Now we expect that what’s going to happen this year is it’s going to become more and more of a news story as we go into the summer, because the Supreme Court is hearing a case that might really fundamentally change the interstate tax structure on the internet,” he added. Trump has repeatedly attacked Amazon and its Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, who owns the Washington Post, which the Republican president also has disparaged. Trump on Thursday accused Amazon of not paying enough taxes, exploiting the U.S. postal system and putting small retailers out of business, but did not present evidence to back up claims or suggest any specific actions. Pennsylvania and Washington state have recently passed laws requiring Amazon to collect sales on items sold by third-party vendors. A Supreme Court ruling favoring South D[/b]akota could funnel up to $13 billion annually of new tax revenues into the coffers of affected U.S. states, according to a 2017 federal government report. Such a ruling would pave the way for states to expand tax collection for online sales across the board. Hassett indicated that federal legislation would be needed after the Supreme Court rules but offered no details. A ruling is due by the end of June.



Factbox: Amazon is latest Trump target stock: effects usually short-lived
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa- ... SKBN1H5372
Category: Politics
Published: March 29, 2018

Description: NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump singled out Amazon.com Inc for criticism on Thursday after a roughly year-long hiatus from using his Twitter account to attack or praise individual companies. The share prices of most of those companies immediately moved sharply up or down, depending on the content of Trump’s comment, but the impact is generally short-lived. Following is a list of companies or industries targeted in Trump’s tweets, starting with the most recent:
AMAZON.COM INC
Trump tweeted on Thursday that Amazon pays “little or no taxes to state and local governments,” takes advantage of the U.S. Postal Service has put many retailers out of business. After falling as much as 4.6 percent early in the session, shares closed up 1.1 percent at $1,447.34 versus a 1.4 percent gain in the S&P 500.
DRUG COMPANIES
Trump sent a tweet on March 7, 2017 before the market opened that he was “working on a new system where there will be competition in the Drug Industry. Pricing for the American people will come way down!” Pfizer Inc shares are up 3.3 percent since then, Merck & Co Inc is down 18.1 percent, Amgen Inc is down 5 percent and Gilead Sciences Inc is up 7.5 percent.
EXXON MOBIL CORP
Trump congratulated the oil company in a tweet after the closing bell on March 5, 2017 for an investment program that would create “45,000 construction & manufacturing jobs in the U.S. Gulf Coast region.” Shares of the Dow component are down 9.5 percent since.
FIAT CHRYSLER AUTOMOBILES NV
Trump applauded the company on Twitter on Jan. 9, 2017 for plans to invest in Michigan and Ohio plants. Its U.S.-listed shares have jumped nearly 95 percent since the tweet.
TOYOTA MOTOR CORP
Trump, who campaigned on promises to keep manufacturing in the United States, tweeted on Jan. 5, 2017 that he would impose a fee if the Japanese automaker built its Corolla models for the U.S. market in Mexico. Toyota’s U.S.-listed shares are up 8.2 percent since.
GENERAL MOTORS CO
Trump on Jan. 3, 2017 threatened a “big border tax” on GM for making its Chevy Cruze model in Mexico. GM shares fell briefly in premarket trade following the tweets and recovered to finish the trading session up 0.9 percent. Shares of the automaker are up 3.4 percent since.
LOCKHEED MARTIN CORP
Trump tweeted on Dec. 12, 2016 that the U.S. defense company’s F-35 fighter jet program was “out of control.” Lockheed Martin shares fell 2.5 percent on the day of the tweet but are up 1.9 percent through Thursday’s close.
BOEING CO
In a Dec. 6, 2016 tweet, Trump criticized costs of the Air Force One plane manufactured by the company. Shares of the Dow component have surged 115.4 percent since that time.
UNITED TECHNOLOGIES CORP
Trump tweeted on Nov. 24, 2016 about working on a deal with the Dow component to keep jobs at its Carrier unit in Indiana. The stock has risen 7.6 percent since.
FORD MOTOR CO
Shares are down 5.6 percent since Trump tweeted late on Nov. 17, 2016 that the company would keep jobs in Kentucky.



Amazon's Washington influence machine built to withstand Trump's attacks
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-amaz ... SKBN1H52RF
Category: Politics
Published: March 29, 2018

Description: WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Between lobbying, campaign contributions and positioning itself as engaged on policy issues like job creation, Amazon.com has long courted a positive relationship with both the White House and Congress that will help it withstand the latest attack from U.S. President Donald Trump. The company was likely not surprised when Trump criticized it via a post on Twitter on Thursday; he has slammed it in a similar manner previously. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s decision to purchase The Washington Post has also stoked Trump’s ire. Still, Amazon doesn’t appear to be left out of the White House since Trump took office; an official from its Washington, D.C. office participated in an event hosted last week by First Lady Melania Trump to discuss cyber safety and technology. Disclosures from Amazon indicate they have lobbied the White House on several topics, including immigration, cyber security and drones. Keeping a cadre of lobbyists has become routine for large companies that risk having their entire business upset by possible congressional or regulatory action. Amazon employs about 15 lobbyists, according to disclosures submitted to the U.S. Senate. Additionally, the company works with about 15 outside lobbying firms who each assign more lobbyists to work on behalf of the company. Amazon has wide exposure to various parts of the government capable of regulating their business operations - from federal aviation rules affecting drones to oversight of anti-trust. The largest online retailer, Amazon is also working aggressively to obtain government contracts to provide services to federal agencies to save data online for them, known as cloud services. Currently, Amazon has a $600 million contract to host data for the Central Intelligence Agency. The e-commerce giant spent $15.4 million in 2017, up from $12 million a year earlier, on lobbying in Washington. The company’s lobbying effort more than doubled in 2015 compared with prior years, spending $10.5 million. Amazon also maintains a corporate political action committee (PAC), a fund that allows the company to collect political donations from employees and then give donations to lawmakers and other politicians running for office. By the end of February, Amazon’s PAC had $1.1 million in cash. The committee spent more than $718,000 in 2017 and the first two months of 2018. The cash spent by Amazon was divided between Republicans and Democrats. For example, in 2017 the PAC gave both the Democratic and Republican congressional committees $15,000.



Amazon cuts ties with top Washington lobbying firms: Bloomberg
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa- ... SKBN1H60IO
Category: Politics
Published: March 30, 2018

Description: (Reuters) - Online retailing behemoth Amazon.com Inc has cut ties with Washington lobbying firms Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and Squire Patton Boggs, Bloomberg reported on Friday. The changes took place about a week before U.S. President Donald Trump accused Amazon in a tweet on Thursday of not paying enough tax, taking advantage of the U.S. postal system and putting small retailers out of business. Amazon had cut ties from the lobbying firms last Friday and in their place hired Paul Brathwaite of Federal Street Strategies LLC and Josh Holly of Holly Strategies Inc, both of whom have previously worked as outside lobbyists for Airbnb Inc and Oracle Corp, the report said, citing a source. Neither of the parties were immediately available for comment outside regular business hours. The e-commerce giant employs about 15 lobbyists, according to earlier disclosures submitted to the U.S. Senate, with another 15 outside lobbying firms who each assign more lobbyists to work on behalf of the company. The retailer spent $15.4 million in 2017 on lobbying in Washington, up from $12 million a year earlier.



Trump attacks Amazon, again, over U.S. postal rates
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-amaz ... SKBN1H70MC
Category: Politics
Published: March 31, 2018

Description: (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump launched his second attack in a week on Amazon.com Inc on Saturday, accusing the world’s biggest online retailer of getting unfairly cheap rates from the U.S. Postal Service and not paying enough tax. Trump’s comments on Twitter reiterated criticisms he made on Thursday about the company. He may have been prompted by a report from news website Axios saying he was obsessed with Amazon and considering ways to rein in the company’s power, possibly with federal antitrust or competition laws. Investor concerns about regulatory action sent Amazon shares down 3.3 percent over Wednesday and Thursday, knocking $24 billion off the company’s market value. “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,” Trump tweeted on Saturday. A Citigroup analysis last year showed that if the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) reallocated costs to account for the growing volume of packages it delivers, it would cost $1.46 more to deliver each package. Federal regulators, which review contracts made by USPS, have not raised any issues with the terms of its contract with Amazon. “If the P.O. ‘increased its parcel rates, Amazon’s shipping costs would rise by $2.6 Billion’,” Trump tweeted, although it was not clear what report he was citing. “This Post Office scam must stop. Amazon must pay real costs (and taxes) now!” A White House spokeswoman said on Thursday the administration has no Amazon-related action at this time. Trump also accused the Washington Post, owned privately by Amazon Chief Executive and founder Jeff Bezos, of being a “lobbyist” for Amazon. The newspaper, a frequent target of Trump’s ire, won a Pulitzer Prize last year for its critical investigation of Trump’s donations to charities. Amazon declined comment. The Washington Post did not immediately reply to a request for comment.



Amazon shares fall 6 percent as Trump renews attack
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-amaz ... SKCN1H9185
Category: Politics
Published: April 2, 2018

Description: (Reuters) - Shares of Amazon.com Inc fell 6 percent on Monday after U.S. President Donald Trump again attacked the online retailer over the pricing of its deliveries through the United States Postal Service and promised unspecified changes. “Only fools, or worse, are saying that our money losing Post Office makes money with Amazon,” Trump tweeted. “They lose a fortune, and this will be changed. Also, our fully tax paying retailers are closing stores all over the country...not a level playing field!” Shares of the company were down 5.9 percent at $1,362.48, wiping out nearly $45 billion from its market value. Trump has been vocal about his opposition to Amazon’s use of the postal service and Monday’s tweet adds to investor worries that the company could see more regulation. Amazon did not immediately respond to requests for a comment. On Saturday, Trump tweeted that if the post office “increased its parcel rates, Amazon’s shipping costs would rise by $2.6 billion.” The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) in November reported a decline in annual revenue, hurt by a drop in first-class and marketing mail, offset partly by an increase in package delivery. The postal service has also been posting losses mainly because of payments, more than $5 billion a year as mandated by Congress to prefund the service’s future retirees’ healthcare. The passage of postal reform legislation could alleviate USPS’s pension obligations, give it more pricing power and allow the agency to be more competitive, analysts said. “We believe the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has gained share from Amazon which is helping the USPS stay afloat,” Morgan Stanley analysts wrote. Details of Amazon’s payments to the USPS are not publicly known, but some Wall Street analysts have estimated it pays the postal service roughly half what it would to United Parcel Service Inc or FedEx Corp to deliver a package. “President Trump’s comments are consistent with industry sources we have spoken to in the shipping industry, who often label Amazon’s deal with the USPS as a sweetheart deal,” DA Davidson analyst Tom Forte wrote in a note. “An argument, however, could be made that the USPS was losing billions before it expanded its service offerings for Amazon and would, still, likely lose billions if Amazon discontinued its use of the USPS tomorrow,” Forte said. Trump last Thursday accused Amazon of not paying enough tax, making the postal system lose money and putting small retailers out of business.



Amazon shares pare some gains as Trump attacks company again
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-amaz ... SKCN1HA1RR
Category: Politics
Published: April 3, 2018

Description: WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Shares of Amazon.com Inc pared earlier gains on Tuesday after U.S. President Donald Trump repeated his unsubstantiated claim that the world’s biggest online retailer’s deliveries cost the U.S. Postal Service money. Over the past week, Trump has stepped up his criticism of Amazon and its founder and Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, who privately owns The Washington Post, but he has offered no evidence to back up his criticisms or outlined any specific actions he planned to take. “I am right about Amazon costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy. Amazon should pay these costs (plus) and not have them bourne by the American Taxpayer. Many billions of dollars. P.O. leaders don’t have a clue (or do they?)!” Trump wrote on Twitter, misspelling “borne.” Representatives of Amazon and USPS had no comment on Trump’s latest tweet. Amazon shares were up about 0.2 percent in morning trade on the Nasdaq after trading up about 1.8 percent earlier on Tuesday before Trump’s latest tweet. The company’s shares fell more than 5 percent on Monday after Trump tweeted his opposition to Amazon’s use of the nation’s postal system and vowed unspecified change. Last week he also attacked Amazon over taxes.



Trump says U.S. subsidizes Amazon for shipping
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-amaz ... SKCN1HA25Z
Category: Politics
Published: April 3, 2018

Description: WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Tuesday said the United States is subsidizing Amazon.com Inc and that the online retailer must pay more to ship its products through the nation’s postal agency. Trump, citing an unnamed report, told reporters at the White House that the U.S. Postal Service “delivers packages for Amazon at a very low rate,” adding: “If you look at the cost that we’re subsidizing, we’re giving a subsidy to Amazon.”



Amazon finishes higher despite Trump's new threat on shipping rates
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-amaz ... SKCN1HA1RR
Category: Politics
Published: April 3, 2018

Description: WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The largest American business lobby group came to the defense of Amazon.com Inc on Tuesday after a multi-day Twitter attack by U.S. President Donald Trump that included unsubstantiated criticism of the world’s biggest online retailer. The value of Amazon shares held by Jeff Bezos, the online retailer’s chief executive and single largest shareholder, had taken a $10 billion hit in the week since Trump began attacking him and his company on Twitter. Citing an unspecified report, Trump told reporters at the White House that the company was not paying the U.S. Postal Service a fair rate, and that it was costing U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars and forcing other retailers out of business, and he threatened to raise rates. Late on Tuesday afternoon, a source familiar with proceedings at the White House said no specific actions addressing Trump’s concerns about Amazon were on the table at the White House at this time, but that could change given Trump’s dissatisfaction with the company. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the largest business lobby group in the country, stepped in on Tuesday to defend Amazon, which is a member. “It’s inappropriate for government officials to use their position to attack an American company,” Neil Bradley, chief policy officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement, citing the value of the free enterprise system and the rule of law. “The record is clear: deviating from those processes undermines economic growth and job creation.” It is not the first time Trump, or another U.S. president, has been publicly critical of a company. Trump has previously criticized automakers, Carrier Corp, which is owned by United Technologies Corp and Boeing Co. In 2015, then-President Barack Obama criticized office supply company Staples Inc for not embracing the Affordable Care Act, drawing a quick rebuke from Republicans and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Trump has progressively escalated his criticism of Amazon and Bezos, who also privately owns The Washington Post, which has published stories that have angered the president. Bezos, ranked by Forbes magazine as the world’s richest man with an estimated net worth of $115.6 billion, owns 78.89 million Amazon shares, worth about $110 billion at Tuesday’s market close. Amazon shares closed up 1.5 percent at $1,392.05. The shares started the day higher but fell as low as $1,355.33 after Trump’s latest Amazon-related tweet. Trump has accused Amazon of not paying enough tax, taking advantage of the U.S. postal system and putting small retailers out of business, but he has offered no evidence to back up his criticisms. “The post office is losing billions of dollars ... because it delivers packages for Amazon at a very low rate,” Trump told reporters on Tuesday. “If you look at the cost that we’re subsidizing, we’re giving a subsidy to Amazon.” Trump offered no details about the report he cited or how he might charge the company more through USPS. Amazon also ships packages through providers such as FedEx Corp and United Parcel Service Inc as well as its own experimental shipping service. Representatives of Amazon and USPS had no comment on Trump’s tweet on Tuesday and could not be immediately reached regarding his latest comments to reporters.



Trump wants 'level playing field' on Amazon, taxes: adviser
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-amaz ... SKCN1HB28C
Category: Politics
Published: April 4, 2018

Description: WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump is not attacking the business sector with his recent critiques of Amazon.com Inc but wants the online retailer to do more when it comes to taxes, his economic adviser said on Wednesday. “His view on Amazon is we’ve got to have a level playing field with regards to taxes,” Kudlow told reporters at the White House. “They have improved their tax collections, but more can be done.” Trump, a Republican, has been harshly critical of the company in recent days, making unsubstantiated claims that the U.S. Postal Service is losing money shipping Amazon’s packages and accusing the retailer of not paying enough taxes. Shares of Amazon have slumped, and on Wednesday were down 0.3 percent in mid-day trade on the Nasdaq amid a wider losses on Wall Street over the latest U.S.-China trade spat that has drawn in the technology sector. Seattle-based Amazon voluntarily collects state sales tax on items it sells direct to customers in all 45 states that impose one, but is not required to collect taxes on third-party sellers using its Marketplace service. Asked about that, and the bulk shipping rate that Amazon and other companies pay, Kudlow said: “There’s a lot of glitches in that” but gave no other details. Representatives for the retailer could not be immediately reached for comment.



Trump attacks Washington Post, calls it Amazon's 'chief lobbyist'
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-amaz ... SKCN1HC1QP
Category: Politics
Published: April 5, 2018

Description: WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump called the Washington Post the “chief lobbyist” for Amazon.com Inc on Thursday, repeating his unsubstantiated attack on the newspaper. The newspaper is privately owned by Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive officer of the online retailer. Amazon does not own the Post. Trump regularly lashes out against what he perceives as critical articles in the Post as well as the New York Times and CNN. On Thursday he took issue with a story headline in the Post on China retaliating with trade penalties against U.S. products. “The Fake News Washington Post, Amazon’s ‘chief lobbyist,’ has another (of many) phony headlines,” Trump said on Twitter. Amazon and the Washington Post did not immediately respond to requests for a comment. Last weekend Trump called the Washington Post a lobbyist for Amazon in a tweet. Martin Baron, the Washington Post’s executive editor, rejected the accusation. “There isn’t anybody here who is paid by Amazon,” Baron told the New York Times in a report published on Tuesday. “Not one penny.” Amazon shares were up 2.1 percent on Thursday. Before the open, the stock had dropped 4 percent since news website Axios reported last week that Trump was obsessed with Amazon and wanted to curb its power, possibly with antitrust action. Trump followed that report by repeatedly attacking Amazon’s use of the United States Postal Service, claiming it is losing money delivering Amazon packages, without presenting any evidence to back up his assertion.



Trump taking 'serious look' at policy options on Amazon
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-amaz ... SKCN1HC1QP
Category: Politics
Published: April 5, 2018

Description: Aboard Air Force One (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he would take a serious look at policies to address what he says are the unfair business advantages of online retailer Amazon.com Inc. Speaking to reporters while traveling back to Washington from West Virginia on Air Force One, he accused Amazon of not operating on a level playing field and not paying enough sales tax. Asked if he wanted to make policy changes related to the company, Trump said: “We’re going to take a very serious look at that.” The “sales tax situation” was going to be looked at soon by the Supreme Court, he added. In the case to be argued on April 17, South Dakota is asking the nine justices to overturn a 1992 Supreme Court ruling that only companies with a physical presence in a state are required to collect the state’s sales tax on purchases. The Justice Department filed a brief in support of South Dakota, which lost in lower courts. Amazon is not involved in the case but the eventual ruling could have consequences for it and other e-commerce businesses. Amazon has already agreed to collect sales taxes in all 45 states that impose them on items it sells directly. South Dakota argues that brick-and-mortar retailers suffer because they have to collect the taxes and therefore have a pricing disadvantage. Trump’s comments on Thursday followed a tweet earlier in the day calling the Washington Post the “chief lobbyist” for Amazon. His lobbying allegations repeated a previous unsubstantiated attack on the newspaper, while White House officials in recent days have said no policy changes related to Amazon were currently planned. The Washington Post is privately owned by Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive officer of the online retailer. Amazon does not own the Post. Trump regularly lashes out against what he perceives as critical articles in the Post as well as the New York Times and CNN. On Thursday, he took issue with a headline in the Post on China retaliating with trade penalties against U.S. products. “The Fake News Washington Post, Amazon’s ‘chief lobbyist,’ has another (of many) phony headlines,” Trump said on Twitter. Amazon and the Washington Post did not immediately respond to requests for a comment after the tweet. Last weekend Trump called the Washington Post a lobbyist for Amazon in a tweet. Martin Baron, the Washington Post’s executive editor, rejected the accusation. “There isn’t anybody here who is paid by Amazon,” Baron told the New York Times in a report published on Tuesday. “Not one penny.” Amazon shares closed up 2.9 percent on Thursday, but dipped slightly after the market close following the latest Trump comments. Before Thursday’s trading, the stock had dropped 4 percent since news website Axios reported last week that Trump was obsessed with Amazon and wanted to curb its power, possibly with anti-trust action. Trump followed that report by repeatedly attacking Amazon’s use of the United States Postal Service, claiming it is losing money delivering Amazon packages, without presenting any evidence to back up his assertion. He repeated the claim, “The Post Office is not doing well with Amazon,” in his comments on Thursday.



Trump orders review of U.S. Postal Service following criticism of Amazon
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa- ... SKBN1HK05S
Category: Politics
Published: April 13, 2018

Description: WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday ordered the creation of a task force to study the U.S. Postal Service and its financial difficulties, after recently claiming without evidence that deliveries for Amazon.com Inc were costing the service money. The task force will look into the post office’s business model, similar to a commission set up by U.S. President George Bush in 2002. “The USPS is on an unsustainable financial path and must be restructured to prevent a taxpayer-funded bailout,” said the order, signed by Trump. It said the Postal Service had lost $65 billion since the 2007-2009 recession. The Postal Service, which is supposed to be self-sustaining, must ask Congress for permission to raise rates and must pre-fund decades worth of retiree health benefits. The order did not mention Amazon, which Trump has regularly criticized in recent weeks. However, the order asked the task force to evaluate “the expansion and pricing of the package delivery market and the USPS’s role in competitive markets,” among other issues. Deliveries for Amazon and other online retailers have been the fastest-growing part of the U.S. Postal Service business, helping offset a sharp decline in regular first-class mail. Details of Amazon’s payments to USPS are not publicly known. Wall Street analysts have estimated it pays USPS roughly half what it would to United Parcel Service Inc or FedEx Corp to deliver a package. The order’s language will likely encourage the task force to see if USPS can charge companies like Amazon more for parcel delivery, a person who previously worked at the Postal Regulatory Commission said on condition of anonymity. Amazon declined to comment. Though the company is one of the Postal Service’s biggest customers, it is increasingly growing its own delivery capacity, which could help it stem any impact from changes to USPS. The task force will be chaired by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin or his designee, and it will consult with the Postmaster General and the Chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission, among others, the executive order said.



Prime hike gives Amazon warchest for fight over postal costs
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-amaz ... SKBN1HY1OG
Category: Business
Published: April 27, 2018

Description: (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc’s 20 percent hike in the cost of Prime membership should deliver more than $1 billion in extra revenue this year and cover any “rational” hike in United States Postal Service delivery fees, Wall Street analysts said on Friday. President Donald Trump has been laying into the Seattle-based online shopping firm in recent weeks for what he says is a deal with publicly-owned USPS which effectively lumps much of the cost of thousands of daily deliveries onto U.S. taxpayers. Trump has said that if USPS raised parcel rates, Amazon would face $2.6 billion in extra cost, although equity analysts who follow billionaire Jeff Bezos’ company estimate a much lower number and say the deal may actually be keeping USPS afloat. Several said that Thursday’s move by the company to raise Prime fees to $119 a year from $99 starting June 16 would not faze many of Prime’s estimated 60-65 million U.S. members. “The incremental $20 membership fee could result in an incremental $1.2 billion to $1.3 billion of revenue which should more than offset any rational USPS price increase,” Deutsche Bank analyst Lloyd Walmsley said. Shares of the company were up 7.4 percent to a record high of $1630 in premarket trading on Friday as investors lauded another blockbuster quarter that delivered profits of $1.6 billion and revenue of $51 billion. “Amazon delivered a humongous quarter, with faster growth and higher profitability than Street projections and followed up with a one-two punch by announcing it was raising annual Prime membership fee,” Deutsche Bank Lloyd Walmsley said. The 20 percent hike was the second time Amazon had increased its Prime subscription fee since the launch of the service in 2005. The service, crucial in driving purchases of both goods and digital media on Amazon, gives members free delivery, access to movies and original series through Prime Video, on-demand music streaming and free books on Prime Reading. That appears to put it on a collision course with Netflix and Apple in the streaming market - but analysts say Bezos is more interested in how the appeal of the service props up his retail empire. Amazon disclosed last week it now has more than 100 million Amazon Prime members globally and commentators said it would likely raise prices outside of the United States as well. “So far there is no word on international price hikes but with the expansion of shipping services and content worldwide, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to see them,” Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Graham said.



Senate cancels postal service hearing; Trump's Amazon crusade delayed
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa- ... SKCN1LG28O
Category: Politics
Published: August 31, 2018

Description: SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A Senate hearing about reforming the U.S. Postal Service that could have scrutinized what Amazon.com Inc and others pay for package delivery has been delayed, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters, moving back President Donald Trump’s effort to hike the world’s largest online retailer’s rates. Trump has repeatedly attacked Amazon on Twitter for treating the Postal Service as its “delivery boy” by paying less than it should for deliveries and contributing to the service’s $65 billion loss since the global financial crisis of 2007-2009, without presenting evidence. The president ordered a task force in April to study the Postal Service, an independent establishment of the executive branch of the U.S. government, looking at its financial health and what it charges customers such as Amazon for package deliveries, in a report due Aug. 10. However, the White House has decided it will not yet release the report, forcing the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs to postpone a hearing on postal reform that was planned for Sept. 5, the sources said. One said the hearing was postponed “indefinitely.” That means any legislation that raised the Postal Service’s rates on Amazon and other shippers has been kicked further into the future. The task force briefed the president on its preliminary findings and recommendations earlier this month, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Treasury Department, which is in charge of the task force, told Reuters. “The task force will continue our work to identify solutions to strengthen the USPS business model driving toward a public report before the end of the year,” she said. “It is clear that the governance of USPS must be fixed and we encourage Congress to take actions towards that goal.” The rates the Postal Service charges Amazon and other bulk customers are not made public. Federal regulators that review contracts made by the service have not raised any issues with the terms of its deal with Amazon. Trump’s attacks on Amazon have gone hand-in-hand with attacks on its founder and Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, who privately owns the Washington Post, which has published several articles critical of Trump’s campaign and presidency. Trump has described the newspaper as Amazon’s “chief lobbyist.” The Washington Post’s top editor has said Bezos has no involvement in its news coverage. The president’s tweets attacking Amazon temporarily knocked down its stock earlier this year on fears that government action prompted by Trump might hurt the company’s profits. The shares have since recovered and Amazon is on track to become only the second U.S. publicly traded company with a stock market value of more than $1 trillion, alongside Apple Inc. Amazon did not return a request for comment. The retailer and cloud-computing firm is only one of several that have attracted Trump’s ire. He attacked Boeing Co over a previous Air Force One deal. Earlier this week, he accused Alphabet Inc subsidiary Google’s search engine of promoting negative news articles and hiding “fair media” coverage of him, without presenting evidence.



Amazon's Bezos says Trump should be 'glad' of media scrutiny
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-amaz ... SKCN1LU040
Category: Politics
Published: September 14, 2018

Description: WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said on Thursday the company would announce a decision on where it will build a second headquarters before the end of the year, and also said that President Donald Trump is wrong to “attack the media.” Bezos privately owns the Washington Post, which has been among the media that have been the frequent target of broadsides from Trump. Amazon has announced 20 finalists in North America for its planned investment of $5 billion and 50,000 jobs. At a speech before the Economic Club of Washington on Thursday, Bezos did not offer any favorites for the project. Asked about Trump’s repeated criticism of both the Washington Post and Amazon, Bezos called it a “mistake” for any elected official to “attack media and journalists.” What Trump “should say (of criticism) is, ‘This is right, this is good. I am glad I am being scrutinized,’ and that would be so secure and confident,” Bezos said. “But it is really dangerous to demonize the media. It is dangerous to call the media lowlifes, it is dangerous to say that they are the enemy of the people.” “The media,” Bezos added, “is going to be fine. We’re going to push through this.” Trump has described the Washington Post as Amazon’s “chief lobbyist.” The Washington Post’s top editor has said that Bezos has no involvement in its news coverage. Bezos said he has had discussions with Trump but declined to elaborate. The White House did not immediately respond to request for comment. Trump in the spring repeatedly said without evidence that package deliveries by the U.S. Postal Service for Amazon were costing the service money. He ordered a task force to study the Postal Service, but sources last month said that the White House decided to not yet release the report, forcing a planned Senate hearing on postal reform to be delayed.



Democrats to probe Trump actions on AT&T, Amazon: aide
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa- ... SKCN1NG0O1
Category: Politics
Published: November 11, 2018

Description: WASHINGTON (Reuters) - When Democrats take control of the U.S. House they plan to investigate the Trump administration’s attempt to block AT&T Inc from acquiring Time Warner, and whether officials sought to punish Amazon.com Inc by prodding the U.S. Post Office to hike shipping prices for the world’s largest e-commerce company, a senior Democrat and a congressional aide said on Sunday. Speaking to online publication Axios, Representative Adam Schiff, who is expected to be the incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Democrats will review if Trump used the powers of the federal government to punish the companies. Representative Elijah Cummings, the likely incoming chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the committee “may want to look into” if the White House retaliated against Amazon and AT&T. A House Oversight and Government Reform Committee aide said on Sunday that the committee has “already been investigating these matters, but the Trump Administration to date has not complied with our requests. We fully expect that to change now that we are in the majority.” Cummings also said on ABC’s “This Week” that he intends to investigate if Trump killed plans to relocate the new headquarters of the FBI because moving it could harm his business interests in the Trump Hotel across the street. Cummings in September asked the White House and the Trump Organization for documents about Trump’s “failure to accurately report debts and payments” to his personal attorney Michael Cohen “for silencing women who alleged extramarital affairs before the election.” Another committee aide said on Sunday “the requested information was not provided because we were in the minority, and this should change now that we are in the majority.” Cohen pleaded guilty in August to eight felony counts. Since winning control of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections last week, Democrats have vowed to launch investigations on a wide range of topics involving the Trump administration. Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos privately owns the Washington Post, while Time Warner’s holdings include CNN. Trump has lambasted both outlets frequently for their critical coverage of him. “It is very squarely within our responsibility to find out,” Schiff told Axios in an interview that will air Sunday on HBO. Schiff said Trump “was secretly meeting with the postmaster (general) in an effort to browbeat the postmaster into raising postal rates on Amazon... This appears to be an effort by the president to use the instruments of state power to punish Jeff Bezos and the Washington Post,” Schiff said. It is not clear what committees may probe the corporate issues, since Schiff’s Intelligence Committee would not have oversight. A Schiff spokesman declined further comment. AT&T and Amazon.com both declined to comment on Sunday. The White House did not immediately comment. Trump has repeatedly complained Amazon does not pay the U.S. Postal Service a fair rate for package delivery. Trump has said, without citing evidence, that this costs U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars, and he has threatened to raise the company’s postal rates. Trump opposed the AT&T-Time Warner merger as a candidate and has repeatedly attacked CNN and last week a CNN reporter’s White House press pass was suspended. The Justice Department is appealing a federal judge’s approval of the $85.4 billion AT&T acquisition of Time Warner. With a split decision in last week’s congressional elections, Democrats plan a cautious approach. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that Democrats will not conduct “any investigation for a political purpose, but to seek the truth.” Cummings vowed a “methodical” approach in approaching investigations. “I’m not going to be handing out subpoenas like somebody’s handing out candy on Halloween,” Cummings said.



Trump panel wants to give USPS right to hike prices for Amazon, others
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa- ... SKBN1O32MC
Category: Politics
Published: December 4, 2018

Description: WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States Postal Service should have more flexibility to raise rates for packages, according to recommendations from a task force set up by President Donald Trump, a move that could hurt profits of Amazon.com Inc and other large online retailers. The task force was announced in April to find ways to stem financial losses by the service, an independent agency within the federal government. Its creation followed criticism by Trump that the Postal Office provided too much service to Amazon for too little money. The Postal Service lost almost $4 billion in fiscal 2018, which ended on Sept. 30, even as package deliveries rose. It has been losing money for more than a decade, the task force said, partially because the loss of revenue from letters, bills and other ordinary mail in an increasingly digital economy have not been offset by increased revenue from an explosion in deliveries from online shopping. The president has repeatedly attacked Amazon for treating the Postal Service as its “delivery boy” by paying less than it should for deliveries and contributing to the service’s $65 billion loss since the global financial crisis of 2007 to 2009, without presenting evidence. Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos also owns the Washington Post, a newspaper whose critical coverage of the president has repeatedly drawn Trump’s ire. The rates the Postal Service charges Amazon and other bulk customers are not made public. “None of our findings or recommendations relate to any one company,” a senior administration official said on Tuesday. Amazon shares closed down 5.8 percent at $1,669.94, while eBay fell 3.1 percent to $29.26, amid a broad stock market selloff on Tuesday. The Package Coalition, which includes Amazon and other online and catalog shippers, warned against any move to raise prices to deliver their packages. “The Package Coalition is concerned that, by raising prices and depriving Americans of affordable delivery services, the Postal Task Force’s package delivery recommendations would harm consumers, large and small businesses, and especially rural communities,” the group said in an emailed statement. Most of the recommendations made by the task force, including possible price hikes, can be implemented by the agency. Changes, such as to frequency of mail delivery, would require legislation. The task force recommended that the Postal Service have the authority to charge market-based rates for anything that is not deemed an essential service, like delivery of prescription drugs.
BAD NEWS FOR AMAZON
“Although the USPS does have pricing flexibility within its package delivery segment, packages have not been priced with profitability in mind. The USPS should have the authority to charge market-based prices for both mail and package items that are not deemed ‘essential services,’” the task force said in its summary. That would be bad news for Amazon and other online sellers that ship billions of packages a year to customers. “If they go to market pricing, there will definitely be a negative impact on Amazon’s business,” said Marc Wulfraat, president of logistics consultancy MWPVL International Inc. If prices jumped 10 percent, that would increase annual costs for Amazon by at least $1 billion, he said. The task force also recommended that the Postal Service address rising labor costs. The Postal Service should also restructure $43 billion in pre-funding payments that it owes the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund, the task force said. Cowen & Co, in a May report, said the Postal Service and Amazon were “co-dependent,” but that Amazon went elsewhere for most packages that needed to arrive quickly. Cowen estimated that the Postal Service delivered about 59 percent of Amazon’s U.S. packages in 2017, and package delivery could account for 50 percent of postal service revenue by 2023. The American Postal Workers Union warned against any effort to cut services. “Recommendations would slow down service, reduce delivery days and privatize large portions of the public Postal Service. Most of the report’s recommendations, if implemented, would hurt business and individuals alike,” the union said in a statement. Amazon, FedEx Corp and United Parcel Service Inc did not return requests for comment.
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Trump hates Amazon, not Facebook

Postby smix » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:02 pm

Trump hates Amazon, not Facebook
Axios

URL: https://www.axios.com/trump-regulation- ... aef2c.html
Category: Politics
Published: March 28, 2018

Description: Capitol Hill wants Facebook’s blood, but President Trump isn’t interested. Instead, the tech behemoth Trump wants to go after is Amazon, according to five sources who’ve discussed it with him. “He’s obsessed with Amazon,” a source said. “Obsessed.”

Obsessed-with-Amazon.jpg

What we're hearing: Trump has talked about changing Amazon’s tax treatment because he’s worried about mom-and-pop retailers being put out of business.
* A source who’s spoken to POTUS: “He’s wondered aloud if there may be any way to go after Amazon with antitrust or competition law."
* Trump’s deep-seated antipathy toward Amazon surfaces when discussing tax policy and antitrust cases. The president would love to clip CEO Jeff Bezos’ wings. But he doesn’t have a plan to make that happen.
Behind the president's thinking: Trump's wealthy friends tell him Amazon is destroying their businesses. His real estate buddies tell him — and he agrees — that Amazon is killing shopping malls and brick-and-mortar retailers.
* Trump tells people Amazon has gotten a free ride from taxpayers and cushy treatment from the U.S. Postal Service.
* “The whole post office thing, that's very much a perception he has,” another source said. “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."
* Axios' Ina Fried notes: The Postal Service actually added delivery on Sunday in some cities because Amazon made it worthwhile.
* Trump also pays close attention to the Amazon founder's ownership of The Washington Post, which the president views as Bezos’ political weapon.
Trump never talks about Mark Zuckerberg or Facebook: He isn’t tuned in to the debate over how they handle people’s data, and thinks the Russia story is a hoax, sources say.
* Axios' Kim Hart points out: "Trump told Axios last year he doesn’t mind Facebook because it helps him reach his audience. He's an old-school businessman who sees the world in terms of tangible assets: real estate, physical mail delivery, Main Street, grocery stores. It reminds me of the story Jim wrote a while back about Trump’s fixation with 1950s life. Amazon takes direct aim at some of the core components of mid-century business.”
One warning sign for Facebook: Vice President Mike Pence is concerned about Facebook and Google, according to a source with direct knowledge.
* Though Pence isn't yet pushing internally for any specific regulations, he argues these companies are dangerously powerful.
* The source said the V.P. worries about their influence on media coverage, as well as their control of the advertising industry and users’ personal info.
* When private discussions have turned to the idea of busting Facebook and Google, Pence has listened with keen interest and is open to the suggestion that these two companies need shaking up.
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Re: Amazon shares fall after report Trump wants to curb its power

Postby samurai » Wed Mar 28, 2018 11:04 pm



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Trump Renews Amazon Criticism After Aide Denies Policy Changes

Postby smix » Thu Mar 29, 2018 4:08 pm

Trump Renews Amazon Criticism After Aide Denies Policy Changes
Bloomberg News

URL: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... considered
Category: Politics
Published: March 29, 2018

Description: President Donald Trump on Thursday fired off more criticism at Amazon.com Inc., saying his problems with the internet retailer predate his election a day after a report that he’s “obsessed” with regulating the company. “I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election,” Trump tweeted. “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!” Trump also has repeatedly attacked news coverage of his administration by the Washington Post, also owned by Amazon CEO Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos, and linked unflattering reporting in the newspaper to Bezos and Amazon. In one tweet last summer, he asked “Is Fake News Washington Post being used as a lobbyist weapon?” Amazon shares erased a premarket gain of as much as 1.7 percent after the tweet. Amazon declined to comment on Trump’s tweet. After the market opened Thursday, share fell another 2.6 percent as of 10:20 a.m. New York time. The company’s market value plunged $53 billion Wednesday after Axios reported that Trump wants to impose further regulations on the company. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said later Wednesday that the administration isn’t considering any changes in policy directed at the company.
Sales Tax
Amazon collects sales tax in every state that has one. There is one big loophole, however: Amazon’s policies don’t apply to third-party merchants selling goods through its website, and many of those transactions remain untaxed. Such sales make up about half of the company’s volume. Amazon has said it’s up to the sellers to collect any taxes and many don’t. “The president has talked about the need to have tax parity between online retailers and brick-and-mortar retailers,” White House spokesman Raj Shah said on Fox News on Thursday. “Right now, there is no internet sales tax and as a result companies like Amazon can buy and sell goods without having to pay basic retail taxes.” The Trump administration has urged the U.S. Supreme Court to let state and local governments collect billions of dollars in sales taxes from online retailers. The justices are scheduled to hear arguments next month centering on a South Dakota law that calls for collecting sales taxes from large Internet retailers even if they don’t have brick-and-mortar stores in the state. A ruling is expected by late June. Representative Kristi Noem, a South Dakota Republican, had pushed to include a provision to impose an Internet sales tax as part of the omnibus spending bill. The effort failed after Noem was unable to get enough support among Republicans.
Postal Service
In late 2017, Trump said Amazon should pay “much more” in fees for delivery. Amazon regularly uses the Postal Service to complete what’s called the “last mile” of delivery, with letter carriers dropping off packages at some 150 million residences and businesses daily. It has a network of more than 20 “sort centers” where customer packages are sorted by zip code, stacked on pallets and delivered to post offices for the final leg of delivery. The mail service is independently operated and strikes confidential deals with retailers. Analysts have said that Amazon pays USPS about half of what it would pay UPS or FedEx. “At the end of the day, the standard rule, the standard of care, is: Are consumers better off? And ultimately I think consumers are better off with Amazon and I think that will prevail with this debate,” said Gene Munster, managing partner at Loup Ventures, in an interview on Bloomberg TV.



Here’s Why Trump Went Postal on Amazon
Bloomberg News

URL: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... -on-amazon
Category: Politics
Published: March 30, 2018

Description: The Amazon blame game took another turn on Thursday, when President Donald Trump spun the wheel back around to the U.S. Postal Service. Amazon.com Inc. is a convenient scapegoat for just about any issue. The mail is no different. Amazon isn’t killing the post office. Since signing a landmark contract in 2013 to expand their business relationship and deliver packages on Sunday, revenue has ticked up; losses are down; and shipping is just about the only growth segment in the mailbag. The Postal Service is saddled by larger issues. Sure, there’s the internet, and nobody is sending postcards anymore, but the big financial dilemma is the agency’s yearly obligation to set aside cash to cover health care costs for future retirees. This accounts for billions in losses. U.S. mail is also required to cover every American, employing carriers who roam neighborhoods six days a week (or seven, if Amazon has a package ready). The Postal Service has said it actually makes money on the Amazon deal. E-commerce revenue provides “essential support to pay for the network and infrastructure that enables us to fulfill our universal service obligation,” David Partenheimer, a spokesman for the Postal Service, wrote in a January op-ed. “All users of the mail benefit.” Amazon rebuilt its delivery network around the post several years ago. The company operates “sortation centers” that complement warehouses and organize packages by zip code before sending them to post offices for the final leg of delivery. In Kenosha, Wisconsin, Amazon has a million-square-foot warehouse, connected to a 500,000-square-foot sort center with a covered conveyor belt that resembles an airport skybridge. Ending the U.S. mail relationship would probably be a bigger setback for Amazon than for the Postal Service. On a dark day in late 2011 when the postmaster general proposed cutting 100,000 staff and shutting thousands of post offices, EBay Inc. shares dropped more than 6 percent. Amazon’s deal came soon after, and radical cuts were avoided—probably not a coincidence. So the e-commerce giant got the Postal Service off life support, but any benefit beyond that is minimal. Nothing short of a complete overhaul of the mail system, some kind of bankruptcy-style financial restructuring or reneging on those health-care promises would turn the Postal Service into a sustainable business. Maybe that’s Trump’s goal. Building an antitrust case against Amazon—an idea the President has floated—is a tall order. Amazon’s five-year contract with the Postal Service could be up for renewal this year. Breaking up that relationship would be an easier way for Trump to inflict pain on the #AmazonWashingtonPost, as he calls it.



Fear Lurks Behind Trump's Amazon Vendetta
Bloomberg News

URL: https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles ... g-the-dots
Category: Politics
Published: April 3, 2018

Description: Tax avoidance doesn't normally faze this president. Institutions that could blunt his power are a different story.
Who'd ever have guessed that the forces driving President Donald Trump's attacks on Amazon.com Inc. are personal animus, fear, politics, and a lifelong obsession with the media? Trump has spent the last several days using his bully pulpit on Twitter to take pot shots at Amazon and its founder, Jeff Bezos, helping the company's market valuation shed about $75 billion. Trump has claimed that the main reason he hates Amazon is because it gets off easy on taxes, has dislocated traditional retailers and, most curiously, hurts the U.S. Postal Service by giving it lots of business:
I am right about Amazon costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy. Amazon should pay these costs (plus) and not have them bourne by the American Taxpayer. Many billions of dollars. P.O. leaders don't have a clue (or do they?)!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 3, 2018

Putting aside the fact that Trump himself bragged during a presidential debate with Hillary Clinton that not paying federal taxes "makes me smart," it's doubtful that taxes, competition, or your local post office are the real reasons why Trump is on Amazon's case. Trump loathes Amazon because he conflates the company with the Washington Post. Bezos owns the Post and founded Amazon, but Amazon doesn't own the Post; Bezos purchased it himself for $250 million in 2013. Amazon is just a useful straw man for a president ticked off by the stellar reporting the Post has done over the last few years on the White House, public policy and Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Trump's ties to Russia. As the New York Times reported Tuesday, citing people close to Trump, "critical articles in the Post often trigger his public musings about Amazon." Trump first went on a Twitter rant against Amazon and the Post in December 2015, when the Post was reporting, among other things, that Trump wanted to ban Muslim immigrants from entering the U.S. and that his rationale for doing so was based "on a very shoddy poll."
The @washingtonpost loses money (a deduction) and gives owner @JeffBezos power to screw public on low taxation of @Amazon! Big tax shelter
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 7, 2015

Trump was at it again last summer, relabeling the paper as the "Amazon Washington Post" after it published entirely accurate articles revealing that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had (contrary to his public statements) discussed policy issues with Russia's ambassador to the U.S. during the 2016 presidential campaign:
A new INTELLIGENCE LEAK from the Amazon Washington Post,this time against A.G. Jeff Sessions.These illegal leaks, like Comey's, must stop!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2017

As the Times noted, the Post reported last week that one of the president's lawyers discussed pardoning two former Trump advisers, Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort. A Twitter hit from Trump followed. Vanity Fair reports that Trump is now "obsessed with Bezos" and is considering pressuring the Postal Service to raise Amazon's shipping costs and to encourage the Defense Department to cancel a pending cloud-computing contract with the company. Amazon has deep pockets and could easily challenge Trump in court, of course, and the president's public statements about all of this have made him legally vulnerable. There is, however, a cheaper way for the Post and Amazon to avoid the president's ire: They could get with the program. For guidance, they'd just have to look to the Sinclair Broadcast Group. Sinclair, which owns 193 television stations broadcasting on 614 channels in 89 markets across the U.S., is looking to expand its media empire by buying Tribune Media and the latter company's 42 local TV stations. That deal has been held up by federal regulators (who work for Trump) over antitrust concerns. Sinclair, as CNN's Brian Stelter first reported, has been giving all of its TV anchors scripts recently that it directs them to follow during their broadcasts. The scripts note the various Sinclair stations' commitment to "quality, balanced journalism" — and their concern (which, conveniently, the president shares) about "national media outlets" publishing "fake stories without checking facts." (A Sinclair executive defended the scripts this week by expressing puzzlement "that we would be attacked for asking our news people to remind their audiences that unsubstantiated stories exist on social media.") The scripts have gone live and Timothy Burke, a writer for Deadspin, spun some of the broadcasts together into a video mash-up:
How America's largest local TV owner turned its news anchors into soldiers in Trump's war on the media:
sinclair-anchors.jpg

— Deadspin (@Deadspin) March 31, 2018

I'm probably among the biased observers Sinclair worries about. Trump sued me in 2006, alleging that my biography, "TrumpNation," had misrepresented his business record and his wealth. Trump lost the suit in 2011. I'm also an opinion writer now, not a news reporter. Sinclair isn't a dispassionate observer, either. The company's executive chairman, David Smith, recently told New York magazine's Olivia Nuzzi by email that he doesn’t trust print media because it "serves no real purpose." “The print media is so left wing as to be meaningless dribble [sic] which accounts for why the industry is and will fade away," Smith added. "Just no credibility.” Like Fox News, Sinclair has a pedigree in conservative politics and has long used its resources to promote conservative causes. A former Trump adviser, Boris Epshteyn, offers political commentary on Sinclair's network and the company has pushed its outlets to feature him. All of this seems to sit well with the president (so take note, Jeff Bezos):
So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased. Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 2, 2018

The Fake News Networks, those that knowingly have a sick and biased AGENDA, are worried about the competition and quality of Sinclair Broadcast. The "Fakers" at CNN, NBC, ABC & CBS have done so much dishonest reporting that they should only be allowed to get awards for fiction!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 3, 2018

Trump wants more than the party line from the national media, however. He also wants protection. One of the Post stories last week was an article by David Fahrenthold and Jonathan O'Connell that outlined the myriad legal, financial and reputational threats that have coalesced around the White House and Trump. Perhaps the most threatening among those is the Mueller probe. Mueller recently subpoenaed the Trump Organization for financial records, widening his investigation by digging into the heart of the president's business dealings. Trump has made no secret of his distaste for Mueller's investigation, and he's repeatedly labeled it a "witch hunt." Trump has also attacked Mueller and the sponsor of his probe, the Justice Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, the federal court system and any other institution that gets in his way. The media — flawed, valuable and necessary — is also an institution that gets in Trump's way. He has spent decades courting and deriding the press, but he's never been in the corner he's in now. Trump is afraid. His attacks on Amazon, the Post and Bezos show the new and dangerous lengths he is willing to go in the interest of self-preservation.



Trump's Baseless Amazon Attacks Can't Be Ignored
Bloomberg News

URL: https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles ... be-ignored
Category: Politics
Published: April 4, 2018

Description: My Bloomberg View colleague Timothy L. O'Brien has an excellent item about what President Donald Trump is up to in going after the Washington Post -- that is, in going after Amazon.com Inc., whose founder, Jeff Bezos, also owns the Post. I can only add a little historical perspective. One of the things that hurt Richard Nixon was his "enemies list" and the revelation that he attempted to use the government against the news media. Jay Rosen remembers:
NIXON: The Post is going to have damnable, damnable problems out of this one. They have a television station.
JOHN DEAN: That's right, they do.
NIXON: And they're going to have to get it renewed.
H.R. HALDEMAN: They've got a radio station, too.
NIXON: Does that come up, too?
— Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) April 3, 2018

That's right: Nixon wanted to intimidate the Washington Post by interfering with its business, just as Trump is attempting to bully the very same newspaper. The only difference is that Nixon did it behind the scenes (where it might have stayed if it weren't for his taping system), while Trump is doing it out in the open. It would be a perfectly appropriate piece of an abuse-of-power article of impeachment. Trump took an oath to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." Trump has a positive obligation to protect the First Amendment's freedom of the press, something he violates nearly every day of his presidency generally and is very much doing specifically in attacking Amazon. That would be true even if his claims were based in truth; for what it's worth, they're laughably false. It's certainly not enough to merit impeachment all by itself; impeachment and removal of a president is a very serious business, and one that should not be undertaken unless the need is overwhelming. If this was all Trump had done -- if it was all Nixon had done -- impeachment would be far too strong a response. However, add up all of Trump's misdeeds, both under the abuse of power and obstruction of justice categories, and we've moved into the middle ground, where impeachment would be appropriate but the offenses do not demand it. Unfortunately, new evidence and new violations of his oath of office keep piling up. A year ago, I would have said there's enough to justify impeaching and removing Trump but it would be a stretch for Congress to act. Now? The same, except it's really not a stretch at all. Granted, we'll probably know more when Robert Mueller's investigation ends. And in practical terms, a purely partisan impeachment with no realistic hope of conviction in the Senate is even harder to justify, so even if Democrats do as well as they hope in the November midterms, they'll still be far short of the necessary votes in the Senate unless a lot of Republicans support the effort. But that doesn't mean we should ignore this sort of thing. Trump is still running a lawless administration, and it's an embarrassment to the nation and damaging to U.S. democracy.



The Postal Service Is in Trouble, but Trump’s Tweets Won’t Fix It
Bloomberg News

URL: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... n-t-fix-it
Category: Business
Published: April 4, 2018

Description: The USPS needs more customers like Amazon, not fewer.
In recent days, President Donald Trump has decried the financial condition of the U.S Postal Service, which, in a series of much discussed tweets, he has said is losing “Billions of Dollars.” That part is true. From 2013 to 2016, the USPS averaged a net loss of $5.3 billion per year. The reasons behind those losses, though, are more complicated than the way Trump seems to see it. According to the president, the financial woes of the Postal Service have much to do with the deal it has with Amazon.com to deliver the internet retailer’s packages. Leaving aside Trump’s claims about the Postal Service’s deal with Amazon (which is not a money loser) and his probable reasons for treating it like a piñata (he’s no fan of Amazon Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos, who also happens to be the owner of the Washington Post, a leading chronicler of this administration’s foibles) the president is right to be concerned with the state of the USPS. The question is whether Trump actually wants to fix the agency or simply tweet about it. If he wants to fix it, there are a number of things he could do. For starters, he could support a group of U.S. senators with a set of postal reform proposals that could return the agency to solvency. In late March, Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), introduced a bill with a bipartisan co-sponsorship that would move retired postal workers into Medicare, eliminating the agency’s unfunded health-care liabilities and its need to set aside huge sums to cover them. Naturally, some congressional deficit hawks have complained that this would just shift these costs from one side of the federal ledger to the other. Yet the USPS, the second-largest contributor to Medicare after the federal government, has said such a plan would only raise the government’s annual Medicare costs by a 10th of 1 percent. The Senate bill, introduced March 22, would also restore half of the 4.3 percent emergency rate increase on items like first-class mail that the Postal Regulatory Commission granted the agency in 2013 only to revoke it three years later. It didn’t matter that first-class mail continued its inexorable decline as more people used email and pay their bills online. The result was a decline in American stamp prices, already among the lowest in the developed world, from 49 cents to 47 cents, which only added to the losses at the USPS. These are worthy ideas, endorsed with rare unanimity by USPS management, postal worker unions, and many of the institution’s largest customers. Without White House support, however, the Senate bill is likely to wither and die, a fate suffered by other promising reform proposals in recent years. The tragedy isn’t that Trump has yet to express any interest in pushing such ideas, it’s that he appears not to understand how the agency actually functions. As reported by Bloomberg News, Trump expressed a desire to aides last summer to raise the Postal Service’s rates for delivering Amazon packages. According to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity, Trump’s staff explained to him that the Postal Service is an independent organization and its mail rates are set by a commission. American presidents have a history of getting involved in matters postal, usually for the better. In 1792, George Washington signed the country’s first postal act, which included lower rates for newspapers in an effort to create an informed citizenry. It was so effective that French political philosopher Alexis De Tocqueville praised the American postal system as “the great link between minds” when he visited the country in 1831. Trump’s idol Andrew Jackson was so enamored with the Postal Service that he moved it into the president’s cabinet after he was elected in 1828 and stuffed it with his political supporters, a practice that continued for more than a century. Montgomery Blair, Abraham Lincoln’s postmaster general, introduced free home delivery in cities at a time when most people had to endure long lines at the post office to get their letters. Under Woodrow Wilson, the Postal Service introduced airmail in 1918, clearing the runway for the commercial aviation industry. Richard Nixon signed a bill in 1970 removing the USPS from the president’s cabinet in an effort to remove it from the political hurly-burly and give it the nimbleness of a private company. Unfortunately, it was still subject to heavy-handed congressional and regulatory oversight and often struggled to break even. In 2006, President George W. Bush signed a bill giving the USPS long overdue power to negotiate package shipping deals like the Amazon one. Unfortunately, the bill required the USPS to set aside $5 billion a year to prefund the health benefits of its future retirees. It wasn’t long before the Great Recession arrived, causing mail volume to plummet. The financial burdens that the Bush administration imposed were clearly untenable. Yet Bush’s successor Barack Obama did virtually nothing to alleviate the situation. During his 2008 presidential campaign, Obama quipped, “UPS and FedEx are doing fine. It’s the post office that’s always having problems.” Postal workers understandably took issue with his remark. Once Obama was in the White House, his administration quietly supported the USPS’s plan to end Saturday delivery, which would have saved $2 billion a year. It died in Congress because it was vociferously opposed by postal workers unions and congressional representatives from rural areas who said their constituents depended on traditional mail delivery. Meanwhile, the USPS’s losses mounted, and it was forced to cut hours at rural post offices and slow first-class mail delivery in a vaiThe financial burdens that the Bush administration imposed were clearly untenable. Yet Bush’s successor Barack Obama did virtually nothing to alleviate the situation. During his 2008 presidential campaign, Obama quipped, “UPS and FedEx are doing fine. It’s the post office that’s always having problems.” Postal workers understandably took issue with his remark. Once Obama was in the White House, his administration quietly supported the USPS’s plan to end Saturday delivery, which would have saved $2 billion a year. It died in Congress because it was vociferously opposed by postal workers unions and congressional representatives from rural areas who said their constituents depended on traditional mail delivery. Meanwhile, the USPS’s losses mounted, and it was forced to cut hours at rural post offices and slow first-class mail delivery in a vain attempt to make ends meet. Presidents no longer have the control over the Postal Service that they did in Jackson or Wilson’s day. Today, they get to appoint its board of governors. That’s about it for their formal powers, but they can use the bully pulpit to push for change. That’s what Trump is attempting to do now on Twitter in his criticisms of Amazon and the USPS. The problem is that he’s focused on the wrong issues. He returned to Twitter on April 2, recycling an argument made last year by Citigroup analysts who argued that, properly accounted for, the USPS was losing an average of $1.50 on every Amazon package. It’s a complicated, legalistic case based on the presumption that the USPS, which declines to disclose the agreement’s terms, is essentially providing Amazon a free ride on its letter delivery network rather than requiring it to pay the full costs of the service. That notion excites people at UPS and FedEx and their investors, but few others seem to take it seriously. (The conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page, a frequent critic of the USPS, shrugged it off on Tuesday.) The reality is that the USPS needs more customers like Amazon, not fewer. It’s required by law to visit every address in the country six days a week regardless of how many bills, greeting cards, and catalogs its letter carriers lug in their sacks. With first-class mail and the junkier kind disappearing, the USPS needs something else to put through the network to make money. Postal workers have a saying: “The internet giveth, and the internet taketh away,” which is to say the agency’s future lies in online shopping. Amazon is the first retailer to integrate its distribution system into the Postal Service’s network, constructing sorting centers around the country to funnel packages to local post offices so letter carriers can tote them to people’s doors. As e-commerce continues to account for more of what Americans spend, it provides a potential path to a healthier financial future for the USPS. This vision of the agency’s future is something a shrewd president might champion, but it would require Trump to stop making dubious claims about the reasons for the Postal Service’s financial difficulties. He might even admit that he’s been wrong about the Amazon deal. Unfortunately, that’s not Trump’s style. n attempt to make ends meet. Presidents no longer have the control over the Postal Service that they did in Jackson or Wilson’s day. Today, they get to appoint its board of governors. That’s about it for their formal powers, but they can use the bully pulpit to push for change. That’s what Trump is attempting to do now on Twitter in his criticisms of Amazon and the USPS. The problem is that he’s focused on the wrong issues. He returned to Twitter on April 2, recycling an argument made last year by Citigroup analysts who argued that, properly accounted for, the USPS was losing an average of $1.50 on every Amazon package. It’s a complicated, legalistic case based on the presumption that the USPS, which declines to disclose the agreement’s terms, is essentially providing Amazon a free ride on its letter delivery network rather than requiring it to pay the full costs of the service. That notion excites people at UPS and FedEx and their investors, but few others seem to take it seriously. (The conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page, a frequent critic of the USPS, shrugged it off on Tuesday.) The reality is that the USPS needs more customers like Amazon, not fewer. It’s required by law to visit every address in the country six days a week regardless of how many bills, greeting cards, and catalogs its letter carriers lug in their sacks. With first-class mail and the junkier kind disappearing, the USPS needs something else to put through the network to make money. Postal workers have a saying: “The internet giveth, and the internet taketh away,” which is to say the agency’s future lies in online shopping. Amazon is the first retailer to integrate its distribution system into the Postal Service’s network, constructing sorting centers around the country to funnel packages to local post offices so letter carriers can tote them to people’s doors. As e-commerce continues to account for more of what Americans spend, it provides a potential path to a healthier financial future for the USPS. This vision of the agency’s future is something a shrewd president might champion, but it would require Trump to stop making dubious claims about the reasons for the Postal Service’s financial difficulties. He might even admit that he’s been wrong about the Amazon deal. Unfortunately, that’s not Trump’s style.



Trump Orders Post Office Review After Attacks on Amazon
Bloomberg News

URL: https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles ... t-spending
Category: Politics
Published: April 13, 2018

Description: President Donald Trump ordered the creation of a task force to review business practices at the United States Postal Service, a move that could affect one of the president’s favorite corporate targets: Amazon.com Inc. “The USPS is on an unsustainable financial path and must be restructured to prevent a taxpayer-funded bailout,” the president said in an order that was released Thursday night. The order calls for an examination of the Postal Service’s pricing, policies and workforce costs. The Postal Service has lost more than $65 billion over the past decade as Americans increasingly transmit messages online, according to the executive order. The task force will be led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin or his designee, according to the order. In a series of Twitter messages, Trump has accused Amazon of draining the Postal Service of money it can’t afford to lose. Trump’s sustained attacks on one of the world’s largest companies have hurt Amazon’s stock price and raised questions about government interference in the private sector. A White House official said the presidential order was intended to come up with solutions to the problems at the Postal Service. The official didn’t deny that the task force’s recommendations could affect Amazon. A second White House official disputed the notion that the order was directed at Amazon, and also said that the task force was charged with improving the mail service. Both officials were granted anonymity, to discuss administration deliberations. Amazon declined to comment. Trump has claimed that Amazon was “costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy,” a situation that puts “many thousands of retailers out of business.” He repeated a claim that the postal service loses “$1.50 on average for each package it delivers for Amazon” and said “only fools, or worse” believe the Postal Service makes money from doing business with Amazon. Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, also owns the Washington Post, which has aggressively covered the Trump administration. Since signing a landmark five-year contract in 2013 to deliver packages on Sundays, Amazon and the Postal Service have declared their business relationship a success, although the terms of the contract are confidential.
‘Last Mile’
The Postal Service says it makes money on the Amazon deal, and it’s legally prohibited from charging shippers less than its delivery costs. E-commerce revenue provides “essential support to pay for the network and infrastructure that enables us to fulfill our universal service obligation,” David Partenheimer, a spokesman for the Postal Service, wrote in a January op-ed. “All users of the mail benefit.” Amazon regularly uses the Postal Service to complete what’s called the “last mile” of delivery, with letter carriers dropping off packages at some 150 million residences and businesses daily. The company has a network of 35 “sort center” where customer packages are sorted by ZIP code, stacked on pallets and delivered to post offices for the final leg of delivery. “Amazon has the money to pay the fair rate at the Post Office, which would be much more than they’re paying now,” Trump said to reporters at the White House earlier this month. “Amazon is going to have to pay much more money to the Post Office, there’s no doubt about that.” The executive order requires the commission to examine “the expansion and pricing of the package delivery market and the USPS’s role in competitive markets.”
Previous Studies
It’s not clear what effect the task force would ultimately have, since most changes to the Postal Service’s business structure would require new legislation. The Postal Service is an independent organization and its mail rates are set by a commission. The task force will be looking at issues that have been studied for years by multiple government bodies that have already issued recommendations and reports focusing on the financial stability of the Postal Service. For example, Trump’s executive order requires the task force to review the definition of the “universal service obligation,” which is a loosely defined mandate for the Postal Service to provide affordable service to all customers. The Post Service’s Office of Inspector General issued a report in 2014 with recommendations for redefining the obligation in the digital age. In 2016, the same office released a report with recommendations for financing the mandate. The task force will be required to submit a report to the president within 120 days with recommendations for “administrative and legislative reforms,” according to the order.



Postal Board Nominees Willing to Challenge Trump in Amazon Feud
Bloomberg News

URL: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... azon-rates
Category: Politics
Published: April 18, 2018

Description: Three of President Donald Trump’s nominees to the U.S. Postal Service’s board of governors say they’re willing to challenge the president in his feud with Amazon.com Inc. over how much it pays to mail packages. The proposed board members staked out their independence in response to questions from Senator Claire McCaskill, the top Democrat on a Senate panel that held a hearing Wednesday on their nomination to the board that oversees the USPS. Trump has repeatedly attacked Amazon over its agreements with USPS, including in a barrage of tweets claiming that the online retailer was “costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy” and saying the situation puts “many thousands of retailers out of business.” USPS has lost more than $65 billion over the past decade as Americans increasingly transmit messages online, according to an April 13 executive order from Trump that established a task force to review the Postal Service’s business practices. "I wouldn’t necessarily characterize it as confrontation, but I certainly would be willing to challenge the assumptions," said Calvin Tucker, one of the nominees, who is a businessman from Philadelphia and was a Pennsylvania delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention. The USPS Board of Governors controls postal expenditures, sets policy and selects the postmaster general. All nine of the seats, which are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, are currently vacant. The board doesn’t set rates, which is done by a separate agency, the Postal Regulatory Commission. Both bodies play a role in establishing confidential agreements that are negotiated with private companies such as Amazon and United Parcel Service Inc. Amazon regularly uses the U.S. Postal Service to complete what’s called the “last mile” of delivery, with letter carriers dropping off packages at some 150 million far-flung residences and businesses daily. Since signing a five-year contract in 2013 to deliver packages on Sundays, Amazon and the Postal Service have declared their business relationship a success, although the terms of the contract are confidential.
Sustained Attacks
Trump’s sustained attacks on one of the world’s largest online retailers have hurt Amazon’s stock price and raised questions about government interference in the private sector. "The facts will lead us toward the truth, and that will be what we advocate for," Robert Duncan, another nominee, who served as chairman of the Republican National Committee from 2007 to 2009, told the panel. The third nominee, David Williams, was inspector general of the postal service for 13 years until 2016. McCaskill suggested during the hearing that Trump has directed his ire at Amazon because its founder, Jeff Bezos, owns the Washington Post, which has aggressively covered the administration. "He’s got a thing about the man who owns Amazon," said McCaskill, who is from Missouri. McCaskill also asked to review confidential agreements the Postal Service has with UPS and FedEx Corp. for last-mile delivery, expressing concern that USPS may not be maximizing its profit with those accords. A UPS spokeswoman declined to comment on the arrangement, citing confidentiality, but said the company has previously questioned how the postal service accounts for its costs.



Trump Says Bezos Guards Amazon on Antitrust With Washington Post
Bloomberg News

URL: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... for-amazon
Category: Politics
Published: July 23, 2018

Description: President Donald Trump resumed his public campaign against billionaire Jeff Bezos by calling his newspaper, the Washington Post, an “expensive lobbyist” for Amazon.com Inc. and alleging the online retailer has a “huge antitrust” problem. Trump used Twitter on Monday to repeat his suggestion -- without offering any evidence -- that the newspaper is "used as protection against antitrust claims which many feel should be brought" against the online retailer. He went on to misstate Amazon’s role in an internet sales tax case and the company’s impact on postal service revenues. Trump’s latest attacks on the Washington Post follow a report in the newspaper Sunday about his administration’s deliberations on North Korea that Trump criticized in a tweet minutes before the new barrage against Bezos. Amazon, which Bezos founded, fell as much as 2.4 percent after Trump’s tweets criticizing the company, before recovering some of that loss. The shares were down 0.4 percent to $1,806.03 at 12:19 p.m. in New York. Trump’s administration could act against Amazon through antitrust, the U.S. Postal Service, consumer protection probes or even stoke the mounting push against their government contracting business. The traditional independence and slow pace of investigations by the Justice Department or Federal Trade Commission, however, would likely limit Trump’s ability to direct antitrust actions against the company, which also has the legal benefit of being popular with consumers. The postal service is an independent federal agency supervised by a board of governors appointed by the president. Trump has a mixed record on his calls for antitrust enforcement. He said he would oppose the merger between AT&T Inc. and Time Warner Inc, and the Justice Department did so. His criticism of CNN, which Time Warner owns, created an opening for those defending the merger, which a judge approved in June. The Justice Department is appealing the ruling. Trump has repeatedly attacked Amazon, the Post and Bezos, who once mockingly tweeted, before Trump was president, that he would send Trump to space on one of his rockets. On Monday, he also returned to debunked claims about sales tax collection and the online retailer’s use of the U.S. Postal Service. “The Amazon Washington Post has gone crazy against me ever since they lost the Internet Tax Case in the U.S. Supreme Court two months ago. Next up is the U.S. Post Office which they use, at a fraction of real cost, as their ‘delivery boy’ for a BIG percentage of their packages,” Trump said in a Twitter posting. Amazon wasn’t involved in the Supreme Court case, which pitted South Dakota against three smaller online retailers. The court voted 5-4 to let state and local governments require that online retailers collect sales taxes from customers, even if the merchant doesn’t have a store or warehouse in the state. Even before the ruling, Amazon charged consumers in states with a sales tax, though only when selling products from its own inventory. About half its sales involve goods owned by millions of third-party merchants, however, many of which may now face new tax burdens. That issue is now playing out in individual states. Key questions are whether states put the burden of tax collection on marketplaces like Amazon or the individual merchants and whether there are exemptions for small businesses not meeting a sales threshold. Either way, a new tax burden is unlikely to blunt Amazon’s momentum where average order sizes are estimated to be about $40 and sales taxes aren’t a primary shopper consideration. In April, after another set of broadsides on the online retail giant, Trump created a task force to review the business practices of the Postal Service. Amazon regularly uses the Postal Service to complete what’s called the “last mile” of delivery. USPS, legally prohibited from charging shippers less than its delivery costs, disputes Trump’s claim that it loses money because of the contract. Trump’s attacks against the Washington Post followed a report in the newspaper Sunday that he was venting behind the scenes over a lack of progress in negotiations with North Korea on eliminating its nuclear program. Shortly before criticizing the Post, the president tweeted that "all of Asia is happy" with the progress and noted that North Korea hadn’t conducted a ballistic missile or nuclear test in months. “But the Fake News is saying, without ever asking me (always anonymous sources), that I am angry because it is not going fast enough,” Trump said. “Wrong, very happy!” Fifteen minutes later he began tweeting about Amazon.
‘Gone Crazy’
Trump followed up the tweet about the Postal Service and taxes minutes later: "In my opinion the Washington Post is nothing more than an expensive (the paper loses a fortune) lobbyist for Amazon. Is it used as protection against antitrust claims which many feel should be brought?” Brad Parscale, the manager for Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign, is also said to have complained about the company to Trump. Amazon spent $3.47 million on lobbying in the second quarter of 2018, a company quarterly record, according to Friday filings with the government. The Washington Post does not lobby. The company reports earnings on Thursday. Amazon has been the subject of intense scrutiny among a young generation of antitrust activists, who argue that the current antitrust enforcement framework is ill-equipped to tackle Amazon’s dominance and the potential harm it poses to competition. One of the architects of the argument, Lina Khan of the Open Markets Institute think tank, will be joining Federal Trade Commissioner Rohit Chopra’s office. If the administration opens an antitrust inquiry, enforcers would have to show the company has a monopoly in a market and that it abused its dominant position. But enforcers are intently focused on harm to consumers, and Amazon’s retailing platform is beloved by its customers for its breadth and convenience. An Amazon company spokeswoman, Jodi Seth, declined to comment on the tweets Monday.



Trump Panel Seeks Higher Postal Shipping Rates After Amazon Feud
Bloomberg News

URL: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... mazon-feud
Category: Politics
Published: December 4, 2018

Description: President Donald Trump’s administration is recommending the U.S. Postal Service raise prices for shipping packages, a move that would hit online retailers such as Amazon.com Inc. A Trump-appointed commission on Tuesday released recommendations for the rate increase, which an administration official said would affect most commercial shippers. The report didn’t say how much the Postal Service should increase its prices. Amazon shares dropped about 1 percent on the late afternoon news to close at $1,668.40, losing nearly 6 percent for the day amid a broader market downturn. Stamps.com Inc., which lets users buy and print postage online, also dropped on the news. Trump created the panel after repeatedly criticizing Amazon, which he has accused of contributing to the Postal Service’s financial losses through shipping deals the president claims are unprofitable. Postal Service representatives have said their confidential shipping agreement with Amazon is profitable. The Postal Service “is on an unsustainable financial path which poses significant financial risk to American taxpayers,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who chaired the panel, said in a statement. “Today’s report contains achievable recommendations that fulfill the President’s goal of placing the USPS on a path to sustainability, while protecting taxpayers from undue financial burdens and providing them with necessary mail services.” Trump appointed the commission after months of intermittent threats and insults against Amazon and the Washington Post, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, the retail giant’s founder and chief executive. Although the Postal Service can’t legally deliver packages for less than its delivery costs, Trump has claimed that Amazon was “costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy,” a situation that puts “many thousands of retailers out of business.” Amazon uses the Postal Service to complete what’s called the “last mile” of delivery. The company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. A key recommendation would alter the Postal Service’s “universal service obligation,” a mandate to provide affordable service to all customers. The administration wants most commercial shippers, including companies such as Amazon and other retailers, to pay more to mail packages. The report said packages “have not been priced with profitability in mind” despite the postal service’s leeway to set competitive prices in the segment. The panel’s members believe the Postal Service’s board of governors and U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission can make the changes without congressional legislation, an administration official said. The White House has floated the possible privatization of the Postal Service, a longtime conservative goal. Trump also announced plans in October to pull out of a 192-nation treaty governing international mail. The president acted amid complaints the agreement gives Chinese companies discounted shipping rates for small packages sent to American consumers. The post office has lost more than $65 billion over the past decade as Americans increasingly transmit messages online, according to the White House order. Postal analysts largely lay blame for the financial woes on the email-era decline in letters and on the rare requirement that the Postal Service pre-fund health benefits for future retirees.



Trump Wishes Bezos Luck in His Divorce and Predicts ‘a Beauty’
Bloomberg News

URL: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... own-update
Category: Politics
Published: January 10, 2019

Description: President Donald Trump wished Amazon Inc. founder Jeff Bezos luck in his divorce from his wife MacKenzie, predicting the proceedings will be “a beauty.” “I wish him luck,” the twice-divorced Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday as he departed for a trip to the U.S. border with Mexico. “It’s going to be a beauty.” Bezos and his wife announced they would divorce on Wednesday. Later in the day, the National Enquirer -- whose chairman and chief executive, David Pecker, has been a close Trump ally -- reported that Bezos has been having a relationship with Lauren Sanchez, a former TV anchor and helicopter pilot and the wife of Hollywood talent agent Patrick Whitesell. The Enquirer said it had been actively investigating the relationship between Bezos and Sanchez for four months. The New York Post also reported the relationship and said Whitesell and Sanchez are separated. Trump has a history of publicly attacking Bezos and his company. The president has criticized coverage of his administration by the Bezos-owned Washington Post, and he’s pressured the U.S. Postal Service to raise the prices it charges Amazon to ship its packages. Pecker is cooperating with federal prosecutors who are investigating so-called catch-and-kill payments the Enquirer made ahead of the 2016 presidential election to at least one woman who alleged she had an affair with Trump. The Enquirer secured the rights to the material, assuring the allegations wouldn’t be shared with other media, then never published the story.
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Why Trump’s rage at Amazon will remain impotent

Postby smix » Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:21 pm

Why Trump’s rage at Amazon will remain impotent
The Washington Post

URL: https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/pl ... -impotent/
Category: Politics
Published: March 29, 2018

Description: President Trump is mad at Amazon. Again. Axios reported Wednesday that Trump is “obsessed” with the Internet retailer, often telling people in private that it “has gotten a free ride from taxpayers and cushy treatment from the U.S. Postal Service.” Despite the fact that “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,” Trump seems to believe that unlike other postal customers, Amazon ships its goods for free, or something. And Thursday he hit the company again:
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)

We all know what’s really going on here. Trump couldn’t care less about whether a corporation is paying appropriate taxes, or about the income of the Postal Service, or the fate of mom-and-pop businesses. His rage at Amazon comes from one place: the company’s founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post, the very newspaper you’re reading right now. That paper has reported extensively on Trump and his White House, reporting that paints a completely accurate and therefore highly unflattering picture of this president and the ongoing goat rodeo over which he presides. But is Trump actually going to do anything about it? Some are certainly worried; after the Axios story came out Wednesday, Amazon’s stock took a tumble. The truth, however, is that because of the way Trump’s anger manifests itself and the way his administration works, Amazon is probably safe from his wrath. Trump’s tweet about Amazon is loaded with inaccuracies that he has repeated many times. It’s true that for many years Internet retailers did not collect sales taxes, which worked to their advantage, and no company benefited more than Amazon. However, that’s no longer the case; Amazon now collects sales tax from customers in every state that has one (though it does not mandate that third-party sellers on its platform collect them). In addition, many states have passed what are sometimes called “Amazon laws” that require Internet retailers to collect sales tax whenever they ship to customers in those states. As for Trump’s claim that the company uses “our Postal System as their Delivery Boy,” that’s a bit like complaining that people are hiring taxis to drive them around, or tricking plumbers into fixing their pipes for money. But Amazon’s shipping is not “causing tremendous loss to the U.S.”; in fact, Amazon has to be one of the Postal Service’s biggest customers. If Trump thinks the USPS should charge more for package delivery, he’s free to say so, but he hasn’t so far. I should also note that Amazon, like all big corporations, has reason to thank Trump and congressional Republicans: Because of their corporate tax cut, the company got a $789 million windfall last year, helping it reduce its federal tax rate to zero. All that aside, we don’t have to wonder whether Trump’s complaints about Amazon really stem from his antipathy toward The Post, because he has never made any attempt to hide it. He has linked the two many times in tweets complaining about the paper’s coverage; he even sometimes refers to it as “the Amazon Washington Post.” If Trump really wanted to go after Amazon, he might be able to try. But he won’t. We all know that Trump’s is an intensely personal presidency, driven by his impulses, his predilections and whatever happens to catch his attention on that morning’s “Fox & Friends.” There are some areas in which it’s relatively easy for him to translate those impulses into action. He can, for instance, fire his national security adviser and replace him with a guy he saw on Fox, or fire his Veterans Affairs secretary and replace him with his personal doctor. He can even launch a military strike because a foreign leader said something mean about him. But targeting a corporation would take some time and planning. How would you go about it? In Amazon’s case you could pursue some kind of antitrust case, but then you’d have to involve the Justice Department, which oversees such actions. I’m 99.99 percent sure that if you asked Trump who his assistant attorney general for antitrust is, he wouldn’t be able to tell you. The bureaucracy of this administration constitutes a kind of conservative deep state (kidding, sort of) whose cooperation would be necessary to implement such an initiative, and it would involve quite a few people and take a long time to carry out. That bureaucracy is extremely skeptical of anything that restricts the prerogatives of big corporations, and since undermining Amazon doesn’t serve any identifiable conservative goal, there would likely be strong pushback. And there was one opportunity to get in Amazon’s way, when it purchased Whole Foods last year. The Federal Trade Commission approved the deal quickly and with no fuss. This suggests that even for a president as full of corrupt intent as this one, it may be easier to reward your friends — a contract here, an appointment for a buddy there — than it is to punish your enemies, at least in cases where punishing those enemies doesn’t serve the ideological agenda of everyone you’ve had to hire in order to fill out your administration. Which means that Trump will continue to rail at Amazon on Twitter every time there’s a story in The Post that makes him look foolish, but he won’t really be able to do anything to punish the company. And that will only make him madder.



Trump targets Amazon and its taxes in Twitter attack
The Washington Post

URL: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/bus ... er-attack/
Category: Politics
Published: March 29, 2018

Description: President Trump once again lashed out at Amazon.com, the online retailing giant, on Thursday morning, saying he has long had concerns about the company’s business practices.
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

Trump has periodically criticized Amazon before and since becoming president. Jeffrey P. Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon, also owns The Washington Post.

trump-bezos.jpg

Trump’s latest critique comes after Amazon’s stock took a hit Wednesday following the publication of a report in Axios that Trump was “obsessed” with the retail giant, according to a person interviewed by the publication. Shares fell more than 4 percent on Wednesday and continued their tumble Thursday, falling more than 3.8 percent in morning trading. It’s share price recovered after a White House spokeswoman said that while Trump “has expressed his concerns with Amazon, we have no actions at this time.” By the close of trading, the share price was up 1.1 percent for the day. Some of Trump’s claims about Amazon have not been based on complete information. Amazon, for example, does collect taxes on products it sells to customers in the 45 states with a sales tax. Items sold by third-party vendors, however, may have different arrangements. The company has also said it supports legislation that would require other online retailers to pay state and local sales taxes. Amazon and U.S. Postal Service declined to comment on Trump’s tweet Thursday. Trump’s use of social media to call out individual people and companies has been unprecedented for a president. His other Twitter targets have included Apple, Boeing and General Motors, as well as media outlets including The Washington Post, the New York Times and CNN. The president has long been vocal with his disapproval of Amazon. Trump has frequently complained about Amazon and Jeff Bezos to his friends, according to people who have spoken with the president. For example, at a dinner last month at Mar-a-Lago with Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera and the president’s two adult sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, Trump brought up Amazon and said they should pay more in taxes, according to a person familiar with the dinner. In December, Trump attacked the company’s arrangement with the U.S. Postal Service and called on the agency to raise the shipping rates it charges Amazon. “Why is the United States Post Office, which is losing many billions of dollars a year, while charging Amazon and others so little to deliver their packages, making Amazon richer and the Post Office dumber and poorer?” he tweeted. “Should be charging MUCH MORE!” His tweets about the USPS reflect a debate about whether the Postal Service is charging Amazon and other retailers enough to deliver packages. Parcel delivery has become an increasingly important part of the Postal Service’s business as first-class mail has been on a long-running decline. Amazon’s partnership with the U.S. Postal Service is reviewed annually by the Postal Regulatory Commission, an oversight agency that also sets the rates that Amazon pays for shipping. Last year, the postal service reported a loss of $2.7 billion and revenue of $69.6 billion. Earlier in his presidency, Trump tweeted that “Amazon is doing great damage to tax paying retailers. Towns, cities and states throughout the U.S. are being hurt — many jobs being lost!” Before becoming president, Trump criticized Amazon’s “monopolistic tendencies” and said the company could face “a huge antitrust problem” because “Amazon is controlling so much.” The retailer, which last year had $177.9 billion in revenue, has more than half a million employees worldwide. The company purchased Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion last year, in a deal approved by the Federal Trade Commission. Trump has also suggested that The Post is “a lobbyist weapon against Congress to keep Politicians from looking into Amazon no-tax monopoly.” The Post’s editors and Bezos have declared that Bezos is not involved in any journalistic decisions. The Post is owned by Bezos personally, not by Amazon.



Trump accuses Amazon of ‘Post Office scam,’ falsely says The Post is company’s lobbyist
The Washington Post

URL: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics ... story.html
Category: Politics
Published: March 31, 2018

Description: WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Trump escalated his assault on Amazon.com on Saturday, accusing the online retail giant of a “Post Office scam” and falsely stating that The Washington Post operates as a lobbyist for Amazon. In a pair of morning tweets sent during his drive from his Mar-a-Lago estate to the nearby Trump International Golf Club, the president argued that Amazon costs the U.S. Postal Service billions of dollars in potential revenue. Trump has repeatedly advanced this theory, even though officials have explained to him that Amazon’s contracts with the Postal Service are profitable for the agency. The president also incorrectly conflated Amazon with The Post and made clear that his attacks on the retailer were inspired by his disdain for the newspaper’s coverage. He labeled the newspaper “the Fake Washington Post” and demanded it register as a lobbyist for Amazon. The Post operates independently of Amazon, though the news organization is personally owned by Jeffrey P. Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon. In Trump’s first of two Amazon tweets, sent at 8:45 a.m., he wrote: “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...” The president continued with a second tweet sent seven minutes later: “...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!” Trump also criticized California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) for pardoning five ex-convicts facing deportation. He tagged Fox News Channel in his tweet, indicating his comment was inspired by a segment he watched on the network. Trump tweeted, “Governor Jerry ‘Moonbeam’ Brown pardoned 5 criminal illegal aliens whose crimes include (1) Kidnapping and Robbery (2) Badly beating wife and threatening a crime with intent to terrorize (3) Dealing drugs. Is this really what the great people of California want? @FoxNews.” Trump is typically motivated to lash out at Amazon because of The Post’s coverage of him, officials have said. One person who has discussed the matter repeatedly with the president explained that a negative story in The Post is almost always the catalyst for one of his Amazon rants. The Post on Friday afternoon published online an exhaustive account of the Trump Organization’s finances “under unprecedented assault” because of three different legal inquiries: Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation; the $130,000 payment to secure the silence of adult-film actress Stormy Daniels after her alleged sexual encounter with Trump; and lawsuits alleging that Trump is improperly accepting gifts, or “emoluments,” from foreign or state governments through his businesses. Trump is known to react especially sensitively to news stories about his personal and business affairs. Saturday marked the second time in three days that Trump has attacked Amazon. On Thursday, the president tweeted that “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!” In fact, Amazon does collect taxes on products it sells to customers in the 45 states that have a sales tax, although items sold by third-party vendors may have different arrangements. Beyond Trump’s use of his bully pulpit to single out Amazon, the White House has indicated that there are no plans to take action against the behemoth. Lindsay Walters, a White House spokeswoman, told reporters traveling aboard Air Force One on Thursday, “The president has expressed his concerns with Amazon. We have no actions at this time.” But White House officials have struggled to back up Trump’s theories about the retailer. Asked why Trump believes Amazon is hurting the Postal Service when experts say it ships so many packages it helps keep the Postal Service in business, Walters offered no explanation. Still, Trump’s attacks, irrespective of their factual accuracy, could impact public confidence in the company. After Axios reported Wednesday that Trump was “obsessed” with Amazon, shares fell more than 4 percent. They continued their tumble on Thursday, when Trump tweeted, falling more than 3.8 percent in morning trading. The share price recovered once Walters said there were “no actions at this time,” and it was up 1.1 percent for the day by the close of trading.



Trump keeps up Twitter assault on Amazon, this time criticizing its U.S. Postal Service contract
The Washington Post

URL: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/bus ... -contract/
Category: Politics
Published: April 2, 2018

Description: President Trump on Monday doubled down on his criticism of the U.S. Postal Service’s arrangement with Amazon, saying he would change how much the country’s largest online retailer pays in shipping fees.
Only fools, or worse, are saying that our money losing Post Office makes money with Amazon. THEY LOSE A FORTUNE, and this will be changed. Also, our fully tax paying retailers are closing stores all over the country...not a level playing field!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 2, 2018

“Only fools, or worse, are saying that our money losing Post Office makes money with Amazon,” he tweeted Monday morning. “THEY LOSE A FORTUNE, and this will be changed.” The tweet marked the third time since Thursday Trump has lashed out against Amazon. The retailer’s stock was down 4.9 percent in morning trading. Last week he attacked the retailer for paying “little or no taxes to state & local governments” and said the company uses “our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.)” Two days later, he asserted the USPS loses an average of $1.50 on each Amazon delivery. “This Post Office *scam* must stop. Amazon must pay real costs (and taxes) now!” he tweeted. Amazon collects local taxes in the 45 states that require it, although third-party sellers may have other arrangements. Trump also incorrectly said The Washington Post is a lobbyist for the retailer. (The Post is personally owned by Jeffrey P. Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon. The newspaper operates independently of Amazon.) Amazon and USPS declined to comment on Trump’s tweet Monday morning. The Postal Regulatory Commission, an independent federal agency, oversees the Postal Service’s pricing structure and reviews its contract with Amazon annually. Amazon does receive a discount from the Postal Service, though the details of that arrangement have not been disclosed. An independent regulator reviews the contract every year to make sure it continues to be profitable for USPS. Although Monday’s tweet was the first time the president implied he would try to change how much USPS charges Amazon, he has railed against its pricing structure in the past. In December, Trump attacked the company’s arrangement with the U.S. Postal Service and said the agency should raise the shipping rates it charges Amazon. “Why is the United States Post Office, which is losing many billions of dollars a year, while charging Amazon and others so little to deliver their packages, making Amazon richer and the Post Office dumber and poorer?” he tweeted. “Should be charging MUCH MORE!” A fast rise in parcel deliveries — many of them from Amazon — has helped offset some of the Postal Service’s losses in recent years. In 2017, USPS delivered 589 million more packages than it did a year earlier, amounting to an 11.4 percent growth in volume and $2.1 billion increase in revenue. (Mail volume, meanwhile, decreased by about 5 billion pieces, or 3.6 percent.) Overall, the Postal Service reported a $2.7 billion loss last year on revenue of $69.6 billion.



My foolproof plan to put President Trump in Amazon’s pocket
The Washington Post

URL: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions ... story.html
Category: Politics
Published: April 2, 2018

Description: PRESIDENT TRUMP had a brilliant idea over the weekend. It came during his otherwise zany Twitter attack on Amazon over the past five days, about Amazon not paying taxes (it does), causing the Postal Service to lose money (it’s perfectly adept at losing money on its own) and supposedly controlling The Post because Amazon founder Jeffrey P. Bezos owns the paper (so why don’t I get a discount at Whole Foods?). But in between was a nugget about “the Fake Washington Post, which is used as a ‘lobbyist’ and should so REGISTER.” It was an intriguing proposal, and I am prepared to take Trump up on it. I hereby offer myself to Amazon as a lobbyist. What’s more, I have a foolproof plan to put the entire Trump administration in Amazon’s pocket for a bargain basement price of $242.7 million — guaranteed! Paying to play is a hoary tradition in Washington, but the Trump administration has created a veritable tag sale. Foreign governments and corporations alike have discovered that owning this administration is surprisingly affordable. You just have to know where the deals are. And so I called the man who knows: Norman Eisen, who served as the Obama White House ethics lawyer and now is chairman of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Together, we prepared this Itemized Proposal to Purchase the Trump Administration for Amazon at a Cheap Price.

crime-scene-do-not-enter.jpg

Emoluments: $59,005,000
To win Trump’s favor, we must boost his businesses. As Amazon’s new lobbyist, I would immediately locate my office and residence at the Trump International Hotel in Washington. I would use the Spa by Ivanka Trump and host frequent events at the hotel’s catering facilities. The Saudis reportedly spent $268,000 at the hotel. We would spend $2,680,000 — just to turn heads. I would pay another $2 million a year for office space in the Trump Tower in New York — the same amount paid by China’s largest bank, according to Forbes magazine, part of $175 million a year that commercial tenants pay the president. I would buy memberships at Mar-a-Lago and Trump National Golf Club (just over $300,000 combined). Finally, I would also devote $54 million to subsidize Trump’s real estate business, using the method of a Russian oligarch who bought a mansion from Trump for a generous $95 million just a few years after Trump bought it for $41 million.
Contributions: $13,285,400
Trump’s reelection campaign is already running, so I would cover the basics: maxing out with $2,700 to the Trump campaign, $39,900 for the Republican National Committee and $101,700 to other party committees. I’ll start Trump’s super PAC, America First Action, with $10 million and throw an “anonymous” $3 million into a legal defense fund for Trump officials — a practice Trump’s ethics agency approved.
Acquisition of Former Trump Advisers: $2,500,000
I will sign a hefty lobbying contract with Ballard Partners, run by top Trump fundraiser Brian Ballard, also a regional vice chair of the Republican National Committee. But I had better hurry: Ballard’s firm wasn’t even in Washington in 2016, but last year it had $10 million in lobbying revenue.
Acquisition of Trump Influencer: $50 million
Eisen proposes that I acquire a first-class agent of influence such as Elliott Broidy, a top Trump fundraiser and deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. The New York Times and others reported recently that Broidy pushed the White House to remove Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and to take a more confrontational approach to Iran and Qatar. According to the Times, Broidy had been “tempted” by some $200 million in contracts offered by the United Arab Emirates for his private security business. I’m not asking to sack the secretary of state or change Middle East policy, so I can buy an influencer for less.
Loans to Jared Kushner: $92,000,000
Foreign governments have seen the president’s son-in-law as a way to gain leverage over national policy. Apollo Global Management’s founder met with Kushner to discuss infrastructure policy, then reportedly lent Kushner’s family real estate business $184 million. I’ll try this, too. Even if Kushner’s business fails, I’ll get back 50 cents on the dollar.
Acquisition of Cabinet Officer: $900,000 (cheap!)
A lobbyist let EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt use a Capitol Hill condo worth about $5,000 a month for $50 a night, charging him only for those nights he used. I’d offer lodging and office furniture to Cabinet officers, and private jet travel for them and their families to vacation destinations, honeymoons and political trips — and I wouldn’t even hit $1 million.
Legal Fees: $25,000,000
The only downside with my proposal is that many of those who get involved this way with Trump wind up in legal trouble. So I will need $25 million to retain a criminal-defense lawyer and to cover the expenses of my family during my prison time. To reduce costs, I would temporarily move my family out of the Trump International Hotel during my sentence.



Why Trump went after Bezos: Two billionaires across a cultural divide
The Washington Post

URL: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics ... story.html
Category: Politics
Published: April 5, 2018

Description: Donald Trump and Jeff Bezos inhabit very different worlds. The president is a staunch bricks-and-mortar man who made his fortune building towers and dealing with blue-collar workers. The founder of the world’s largest store, by contrast, is a space enthusiast who experiments with robots and operates much of the cloud where the new economy’s data lives. Trump’s decision in recent days to zero in on Bezos and Amazon.com as his latest Twitter targets has highlighted a severe fracture in American society, a divide between concrete and steel and zeros and ones, a split that is as much philosophical as it is economic, as much about the fraying of communities as it is about the shape of commerce. Four times over the past week, the president has criticized Bezos for running a company that he says fails to pay its share of taxes, for taking undue advantage of the struggling U.S. Postal Service, and for using the news organization he owns — this one — to advance his own interests. Aboard Air Force One on Thursday evening, Trump told reporters that “Amazon is just not on an even playing field. You know, they have a tremendous lobbying effort, in addition to having The Washington Post, which is, as far as I’m concerned, another lobbyist.” The president said he was “going to take a pretty serious look” at Amazon because “the playing field has to be leveled.” Even the manner in which the dispute has played out illustrates the gulf that separates Trump and Bezos, in their personal styles and in their conceptions of the country’s present and prospects. As the president pushes his attack, blaming Bezos for the closing of “fully tax paying retailers . . . all over the country,” Amazon’s founder remains mute, his company declining to publicly engage a president with a different prism on reality. Some of Trump’s aides and allies say his beef with Amazon, Bezos and The Washington Post, which Bezos owns separately from the behemoth online retailer he created, stems from Trump’s lifelong rivalry with billionaires who surpass him on lists of the planet’s richest people. For many years, Trump personally lobbied the editors who craft Forbes magazine’s annual estimation of billionaires’ wealth, arguing his claim of a higher net worth. In the new list, Bezos for the first time holds the top position, at $112 billion; the magazine dropped Trump to No. 766, with a value of $3.1 billion, down $400 million in the past year. But others who have heard Trump rail against Amazon as a “monopoly” say his central complaint is based more on a cultural gap than a financial one, deriving from the fact that the president has never been known to shop online and does not use a computer — and has therefore never experienced what has drawn so many Americans from local storefronts to Amazon and other online retailers. Trump has told several senior White House officials that his friends complain about Amazon and are “getting screwed” by what he views as the company’s monopolistic practices, according to a person who has heard the criticisms. And Trump believes Bezos is using The Post to damage him politically, even as Amazon benefits from its government contracts with the Postal Service and the Defense Department, according to two advisers who speak to Trump frequently. Bezos, a principal architect of the new digital economy, is in some ways a perfect foil for the president, a symbol of a technological revolution who has posed enthusiastically with a robot dog. The two serial entrepreneurs represent opposing notions about how the country can build an economy that works for Republican and Democratic strongholds alike. But Trump’s decision to pick a fight with Bezos is not a simple defense of the old economy against the disruptions of the new. After all, Trump is, like Bezos, a classic disrupter; the president has altered American politics by ignoring tradition and breaking long-standing rules, as Bezos did in the retail realm. Bezos purchased The Post in 2013 for $250 million after being approached by the paper’s then-chairman, Donald E. Graham, who was looking for a new owner with the wherewithal to remake a declining business. Over the past week, Trump has repeatedly criticized The Post as “fake,” alleging that Bezos and Amazon use the newspaper to advance the interests of the owner’s far larger principal business. “People like Trump assume Jeff had these ulterior motives for buying The Post,” said Brad Stone, author of a book on the rise of Bezos and Amazon, “The Everything Store.” “But it was, for him, a small personal investment, an experiment for his personal approach of long-term thinking and bringing technology to bear on difficult problems. His interests in Washington, like selling computer contracts to the Defense Department, aren’t areas where owning The Post is going to help him.” Inside The Post, the notion that Bezos controls or directs news coverage or editorial policy is dismissed as the president’s fantasy. “Trump appears to view ownership of a newspaper as a way to assert influence,” said Frederick J. Ryan Jr., The Post’s chief executive and publisher. “Jeff sees the value of a strong, independent press. Jeff has never proposed a story. Jeff has never intervened in a story. He’s never critiqued a story. He’s not directed or proposed editorials or endorsements. The decisions are made here.” Other companies that Trump has attacked — Carrier and Ford, for example — have responded in the public square, by tweeting, issuing news releases and making TV appearances to push back against Trump’s version of reality. But an Amazon spokesman said neither Bezos nor the company would comment on the president’s criticisms. Amazon’s stock value declined by more than 5 percent after the president’s recent attacks but has gained ground this week. White House officials have said that Trump’s anti-Amazon tweets have generally followed the appearance of Post stories that particularly bothered the president. Last summer, hours after The Post published an article revealing that a fake Time magazine cover featuring Trump had been hung on the walls of at least five Trump clubs around the world, the president tweeted that The Post was “fake news.” Similarly, Trump’s tweets last week alleging that Amazon pays “little or no taxes to state & local governments” and uses “the Fake Washington Post . . . as a ‘lobbyist’ ” came on the heels of a Post story detailing how special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and adult-film actress Stormy Daniels are pressing the president to open the books of the Trump Organization. In fact, Amazon last year began collecting sales taxes in the 45 states that require it, and the company, which initially opposed sales taxes for online purchases, has more recently lobbied for a federal law creating a uniform system for collecting sales taxes online. Stone, the biographer, said the president’s choice of Amazon as a target “seems like a major miscalculation.” “Amazon is one of the country’s most respected brands,” Stone said. “It’s a massive employer, and its workforce is not just coastal — it’s in almost every state. It’s not an easy company to get a mob incensed by.”
Some things in common
Stylistically, Trump and Bezos could hardly be more different. Bezos is famously obsessed with process and metrics, basing his business decisions on research and consumer behavior. Trump has always been skeptical of research, trusting his gut rather than data. Bezos in his early years at Amazon proudly described himself as a nerd; Trump from high school through half a century in business made fun of scholarly types, saying he would rather hang out with his security men than with the executives he derided as bean counters. But the two men have more in common than first impressions may indicate. Both were raised by immigrant parents, went to Ivy League colleges and built their own businesses. Both rose to business prominence in part by using the media to boost their public images. Although Bezos in recent years has given fewer interviews, he was strategic from Amazon’s start about making appearances on magazine covers and “60 Minutes” as he launched new products. Trump, in contrast, opened the media faucet in his 20s and never turned off the gusher. Both men made mid-career moves into the media world that put them into the national conversation in a new way, Bezos by buying The Post and Trump by taking a 50 percent stake in 2003 in “The Apprentice,” the NBC reality show he also hosted. And while both billionaires have been accused of using tough tactics to gain advantages in their industries, the two men have sharply different philosophies about how they approach the risks inherent to their work. Bezos said he seeks to avoid doing things he will later regret. “I want to have lived my life in such a way that when I’m 80 years old, I’ve minimized the number of regrets that I have,” he said on “60 Minutes” in 1999. “A lot of people do that, even if they don’t call it something as dorky as a regret-minimization framework.” Trump, in contrast, has said that even when his behavior generates waves of criticism, it’s wrong to express regret, because that sends a message of weakness. “To look back and say, ‘Gee whiz, I wish I didn’t do this or that,’ I don’t think that is good, and I don’t think in a certain way that is healthy,” he told Fox News during the 2016 campaign.
Trump points to ‘scam’
Trump’s critique of Amazon has focused in part on the contention that the company has profited from a sweetheart deal with the Postal Service, which Amazon uses for “last mile” delivery — the final step in getting a package from one of the company’s sorting centers to a customer’s home. The president has received several briefings on the Postal Service’s troubled finances, and no one in those sessions has argued that Amazon is the cause of the agency’s problems, according to two people familiar with the briefings. But Trump has repeatedly said that Amazon is the problem “and really seems to believe that is true,” one of the people said, declining to be named for fear of retaliation. Trump often says that Amazon is running a “Post Office scam” in which the Postal Service “will lose $1.50 on average for each package it delivers for Amazon.” That idea comes from a study that Citigroup conducted last year, arguing that the price the Postal Service charges Amazon and some other e-commerce companies for deliveries “has been maintained at artificially low levels, creating . . . a government-enforced taxpayer subsidization” and putting FedEx and United Parcel Service at a competitive disadvantage. But the study also notes, as others have, that package delivery is vital to the Postal Service, as Americans now send 40 percent less personal mail than they once did. The Postal Service gives Amazon and other major shippers a discount because their business supplies the service with a steady, large volume of packages — and revenue that keeps its fleet of delivery trucks on the road. The Postal Service’s profits are difficult to measure because of its fixed costs — such as labor, pensions and the requirement that it serve hard-to-reach communities. The Postal Regulatory Commission, which governs the service’s rates, concluded last week that contracts such as Amazon’s generated $7 billion in profit for the Postal Service last year. Although the accuracy of Trump’s statements about Amazon and the Postal Service has been called into question by Wall Street analysts and journalists, the president’s tweetstorms may nonetheless pose difficulties for the company. A Wells Fargo analysis concluded that although “the arguments made by the president against Amazon have been undermined by third-party fact checkers . . . the president’s actions [could stir] additional scrutiny of Amazon beyond the federal government.”
Bezos and The Post
The Post has been a steady target of Trump’s attacks on the news media. But although the president has repeatedly linked Amazon and Bezos to The Post’s coverage of his administration, Ryan, the publisher, said he is not concerned about damage to The Post’s reputation. “Most everybody recognizes it’s Trump fiction,” Ryan said. “He has this obsession despite knowing what the facts are.” The newspaper’s executive editor, Martin Baron, said Bezos plays no role in decisions about what stories get covered or how they are written. Baron said that he and other Post executives have a conference call with Bezos every other Wednesday but that the conversations focus on corporate matters such as technology and subscription pricing, not on coverage or editorial decision-making. “Most ideas for stories come from reporters and their editors,” Baron said. “I haven’t received any ideas from Jeff.” The closest Bezos has come to making a coverage suggestion, Baron said, was when he wondered whether The Post might want to have a columnist specializing in gender issues. “We said, ‘Yes, that’s a good idea,’ ” Baron said, and The Post plans to add such a position. Stone, the biographer, said that although “it sounds like Trump would be directing news coverage if he owned a paper, Jeff has taken the opposite approach from Day One. He’s made it clear that The Washington Post should operate independently.” But Politico media critic Jack Shafer argues that Trump is right to connect Amazon, Bezos and The Post, because the retailer’s wealth made Bezos’s purchase of the paper possible. “If Amazon didn’t exist, it’s unlikely the Washington Post would exist in its current form,” wrote Shafer, whose wife, Nicole Arthur, is The Post’s travel editor. Shafer rejected the notion that The Post is lobbying on behalf of Amazon but said that by linking The Post to Amazon and driving down Amazon’s stock price, Trump had found a way to try to punish a news organization that he otherwise couldn’t harm. Post executives rejected Trump’s accusation that The Post has supported Amazon’s interests. “The reality is he didn’t present any evidence that we were lobbying for Amazon,” Baron said. “The reason is because there is no evidence.” Post editors said Bezos asked them to cover his other enterprises just as they would any other business, and Baron said that is what The Post has done. He provided a list of articles The Post has published that have raised questions about Amazon’s practices and products, including an analysis that argued that Amazon’s Prime membership program may not be worth the fee the company charges, a column that concluded that Amazon’s dominance of some retail markets “might not be in the public interest,” and a product review that dismissed Amazon’s initiative to allow delivery agents to enter people’s unoccupied homes to drop off packages as “creepy.” Unlike many news-organization owners, who often play a defining role in setting the outlet’s editorial opinions, Bezos has not imposed his views on The Post’s editorials, said Fred Hiatt, editor of the editorial department, which operates separately from the Post newsroom. “He doesn’t give us instructions,” Hiatt said. “Our editorial policies and the fundamental principles The Post stands for haven’t really changed. Nobody has ever once tried to get me to use the page for either the business advantage or the political advantage of the owner.” Hiatt said his biweekly conversations with Bezos often focus on strategy and ways to engage more readers. “He is very committed to the idea of an opinion section with true ideological diversity,” Hiatt said. “He’s allowed us to add a lot of new voices.” Bezos’s own politics remain a mystery to many at The Post; Ryan and Baron said they have no idea what the owner’s views are. Stone, the biographer, said that he was unable to crack that nut either; he concluded that Bezos decided early on in his career that there was no upside to expressing political opinions when running a large company with employees from a broad range of perspectives. Bezos has responded to Trump’s criticism a couple of times. He hit back in late 2015, after candidate Trump accused him of owning The Post as a way to reduce Amazon’s tax bill. Bezos, who owns a space exploration business, tweeted: “Finally trashed by @realDonaldTrump. Will still reserve him a seat on the Blue Origin rocket. #sendDonaldtospace” Later in the campaign, Trump complained that “every hour, we’re getting calls from reporters from The Washington Post asking ridiculous questions, and I will tell you, this is owned as a toy by Jeff Bezos.” Trump said Amazon was using The Post “as a tool for political power against me. . . . We can’t let him get away with it.” Bezos responded at a Post-sponsored technology conference, saying that Trump’s threats were “not an appropriate way for a presidential candidate to behave.” Six months later, after Trump’s victory, Bezos struck a different tone: “Congratulations to @realDonaldTrump. I for one give him my most open mind and wish him great success.” Efforts to glean Bezos’s politics have focused mainly on his donations. Some friends have described him as a libertarian, and he donated $100,000 in 2010 to a successful campaign to defeat an initiative in Washington state that would have created a new income tax on the state’s richest residents. He has also given money to the foundation that publishes the libertarian magazine Reason. He has also donated to social causes, including a $2.5 million gift in 2012 from Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, to a drive in Washington state to legalize same-sex marriage. Washington state does not register voters by party, and Bezos has not stated an affiliation with either party. Bezos is an infrequent voter, according to King County records. He voted in nine of the 38 elections held between 1996 and last year; he generally votes in presidential-year general elections but not in primaries or state and local elections. Bezos and his wife are among the largest donors to Amazon’s own political action committee, giving $20,000 in 2016 and $10,000 in this year’s cycle. That PAC gave a large majority of its 2016 donations to Republicans, with the largest gifts going to Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and committees supporting him. Amazon PAC gave its biggest donations that year to members of Congress from the company’s home state and to Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) The PAC’s donations to political candidates’ PACs went overwhelmingly to Republican-affiliated groups in 2016 and the current cycle. Amazon PAC gave equally to the Democratic and Republican congressional campaign committees, but most of its gifts to individual candidate PACs went to groups supporting Republicans, such as Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Rep. Patrick T. McHenry (N.C.).



Trump railed against Amazon, but a law he signed could have the government paying it a lot more
The Washington Post

URL: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the ... ore-money/
Category: Business
Published: April 6, 2018

Description: President Trump in recent days has railed against Amazon.com, claiming it is perpetrating “a scam” and its deliveries cost the Postal Service “a fortune.” But with a law he signed late last year, Trump gave Amazon and other online retailers a huge opportunity to expand how much business they can do with the federal government. Under the law, federal agencies would soon be able to spend significantly more money on all sorts of commercially available products from an approved list of online retailers — without having to go through cumbersome procurement regulations. Today, federal purchasers can spend between $3,500 and $10,000 for basic products without going through the government's lengthy acquisitions process. But under the new system, that threshold could initially jump to $25,000 for online retailers and eventually climb to as high as $250,000. Sites such as Amazon could be delivering far more products — whether its staplers or paper towels — to the White House and other federal agencies. (Amazon’s founder and chief executive, Jeffrey P. Bezos, owns The Washington Post.) The effort is part of a broader attempt to bring government processes more closely in line with the business world, where information-age processes such as buying online are the norm. And it could inject Amazon further into the business of the federal government. The Pentagon is also pursuing a separate effort to move government computing systems to the cloud, another major opportunity for the online retailing giant. Many in industry are concerned that Amazon has a leg up in the competition for that contract, valued at billions of dollars over many years. At a private dinner at the White House this week, Safra Catz, Oracle's chief executive, raised her concerns about the fairness of the bidding process with Trump, according to people with knowledge of the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk freely about the meeting. The dinner was first reported by Bloomberg. Trump referred her to the Pentagon, the people said, and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said this week that “the president is not involved in the process” and that the Defense Department “runs a competitive bidding process.” Navy Cmdr. Patrick Evans, a Pentagon spokesman, said the department is conducting a “full and open” competition and has “no favorites.” The law creating the online marketplace with government-approved online vendors was part of the Pentagon’s 2018 spending bill, which ran 2,427 pages long, and a key part of a congressional push to streamline the federal government’s often cumbersome acquisitions process. The law does not specifically mention Amazon, and lawmakers went to great lengths to ensure that multiple companies, such as Office Depot, Home Depot and Grainger, would be part of the competitive process of determining the list of approved vendors. But as the dominant online retailer, Amazon is in a prime position and could stand to profit from the new purchasing system, government and industry officials said. Recently, Trump has been on a crusade against Amazon, claiming that it pays “little or no taxes” to state and local governments and that it has forced the Postal Service to suffer “tremendous losses,” even though experts say the company has helped the agency’s finances. He also incorrectly claimed that The Post serves as a lobbyist for Amazon. “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,” Trump wrote Saturday on Twitter. “That amounts to Billions of Dollars.” Initially, the online-marketplaces bill would have applied only to the Defense Department, but it was eventually expanded to include the entire the federal government, allowing purchasers to buy more goods at work the way they do at home. Amazon already does some business with federal agencies. But if it became one of the federal government's chosen online vendors, it could see a huge boost. “Clearly some agencies are using it, but it's nowhere near what they anticipate coming,” said Alan Chvotkin, executive vice president and counsel with the Professional Services Council, a trade group that represents government contractors. By creating a list of online vendors approved by the General Services Administration, the government would get better insight into what government purchasers are buying and the amounts they are spending. It also would make the federal bureaucracy more efficient, proponents say. “Everybody understands what a difference Amazon has made,” Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Tex.), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said about the online-marketplaces proposal last year. In a statement Thursday to The Post, Thornberry said that “one of the challenges the [Pentagon] has faced is that there is currently no quick, cost-effective path to buy off-the-shelf items. To meet the military’s needs in a timely way and at a fair price, it only makes sense to let DoD purchasers use the same e-commerce sites at work that they would trust when buying for their families at home.” Amazon said in a statement that it “offers procurement professionals the Amazon buying experience, with the controls and competition they require. Doing so frees them up from busy, transactional work so they can focus on their agency's core missions.” The bill initially called for a single contract to be awarded to just one e-commerce company without full and open competition, leading some to jokingly refer to it as “that Amazon bill.” The language was later amended to explicitly call for more than one e-commerce contract after complaints from business groups. Under the new online purchasing system, which the GSA plans to implement initially by 2019, agencies could be able to buy basic goods, such as office equipment, tools and cleaning supplies that are available commercially. It would not apply to development programs, weapons systems or services. But it could “significantly” affect the way the government does business, Chvotkin said. While such basic supplies may constitute a relatively small portion of the federal budget, totaling in the millions to tens of millions of dollars annually, they make up “an overwhelming number of transactions” for the federal government, he said.



Trump orders review of Postal Service’s business model
The Washington Post

URL: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics ... story.html
Category: Politics
Published: April 12, 2018

Description: President Trump, who has assailed Amazon.com and falsely accused the online retail giant of cheating the U.S. Postal Service by taking advantage of bulk delivery rates, on Thursday night ordered a sweeping overhaul of the Postal Service’s business model. Trump issued an executive order forming an administration task force, to be chaired by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and directed it to evaluate the Postal Service’s finances and operations. The order also directs the task force to issue a report outlining proposed changes within 120 days. The order states that the Postal Service has incurred $65 billion of cumulative losses since the Great Recession ended in 2009 and that it must make changes so that it operates under “a sustainable business model.” Trump’s order stipulates that “the steep decline in First-Class Mail volume, coupled with legal mandates that compel the USPS to incur substantial and inflexible costs, have resulted in a structural deficit where revenues are no longer sufficient to fund the pension liabilities and retiree health obligations owed to current employees.” The order does not single out Amazon by name, but Trump has often railed against Amazon — in public and, more frequently, in private conversations with his advisers and friends — complaining about Jeffrey P. Bezos, the company’s billionaire founder and chief executive. Trump’s advisers say his outbursts about Amazon often are triggered by what the president perceives as negative coverage of him by The Washington Post, which Bezos owns personally. The Post operates independently of Amazon, though Trump has falsely accused the newspaper of being a “lobbyist” for Amazon. Trump has also griped to business friends, saying Amazon has a virtual monopoly on the retail industry and is hurting the bricks-and-mortar businesses, as well as the shopping malls that house them. Trump does not use a computer and does not shop online, advisers say. Bezos has so far stayed out of the sniping match, declining to comment on Trump’s frustrations, though Post executives have explained the paper’s independence from Amazon and condemned the president for his false accusations. Aides have repeatedly pointed out to Trump that the online retailer is not to blame for the Postal Service’s financial woes, but Trump has not assented. It was unclear why he abruptly ordered the review of the Postal Service, but he has gotten several briefings on the service in the past six months, aides say. Thursday’s order marks the first official action by the Trump administration to potentially change the business structure of the Postal Service. Late last month, after Trump lashed out on Twitter about Amazon, White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters told reporters, “We have no actions at this time.”



Trump said Amazon cost the USPS ‘billions.’ But the post office has a different explanation.
The Washington Post

URL: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/bus ... planation/
Category: Business
Published: May 11, 2018

Description: The U.S. Postal Service says that its large financial losses are caused by market forces and governmental constraints but not Amazon.com, in a release of its quarterly statistics that stood in contrast to pointed statements made by President Trump. Trump made waves in March when he declared that the Postal Service was losing money on every package it delivered for Amazon and falsely asserted that The Washington Post was a lobbyist for the company, before ordering a review of the service’s finances.
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

The Post is owned by Jeffrey P. Bezos, who is the founder and chief executive of Amazon, but the two firms are independent of each other. But the Postal Service’s second-quarter results, which were released Friday, note that increases in shipping and package volume remained areas of strong revenue growth amid other declines and economic pressures, which added up to a $1.3 billion net loss in the quarter. Though mail was down by 700 million pieces, or 2.1 percent, package volume grew by some 70 million pieces, about 5 percent, the report said. While revenue overall had grown slightly to $17.5 billion, due in part to these increases, operating costs had surged up 5.7 percent, driven by rising costs connected to retiree health benefits, employee compensation and transportation expenses from increased fuel rates and contractual issues. Officials also cited declining letter volumes, and in particular the decline of the use of First Class and marketing mail, as a challenge faced by the business. “Despite growth in our package business, our financial results reflect systemic trends in the marketplace and the effects of an inflexible, legislatively mandated business model that limits our ability to generate sufficient revenue and imposes costs upon us that we cannot afford,” Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan said in a statement. “With continued aggressive management and greater legal authority to respond to changes in our marketplace and to control our costs, the Postal Service can return to financial sustainability.” The Postal Service has petitioned the Postal Regulatory Commission, the independent body that regulates it, to give it the ability to raise stamp prices beyond inflation, according to the Associated Press. “Congress and the commission need to act now,” Brennan said. The Postal Service did note that the “labor-intensive” package business had raised employee-compensation expenses by $364 million. Amazon uses the Postal Service for about 40 percent of its shipping needs, analysts have estimated, with a per-package cost of about $2, which is significantly lower than the rates charged by other major shippers, according to Post business writer Steve Pearlstein. Amazon shipped more than 1.2 billion packages in the United States last year, according to statistics cited by the Wall Street Journal. The agency’s regulator has disputed the idea that Amazon is hurting its business. The Wall Street Journal reported that former postmaster general Patrick Donahoe told analysts last week that the contract with Amazon had been profitable for the Postal Service. Pearlstein, who acknowledged the complex economic issues at play in the contract, wrote that the arrangement is likely a win for both Amazon and the Postal Service, which is getting additional business for something it is already set up to do: stop at every home, business, and rural post box six days a week, though it now provides the service on Sundays for Amazon. “Looked at from the standpoint of incremental revenue (huge) minus these incremental expenses (modest), the Postal Service could very easily have come to the conclusion that, even at $2 a package, the Amazon contract was likely to be highly profitable,” Pearlstein wrote. Ultimately, the complexities of the Postal Service’s modern financial picture is “a reality that is way too complicated for our president to understand,” he wrote. On Friday, Postal Service Chief Financial Officer Joseph Corbett pointed to the “decline in First Class mail, rising costs and legislative and regulatory constraints,” for the quarter’s losses. Trump’s executive order for a review of Postal Services finances requires it to identify potential changes so it can operate under a “sustainable business model.” The order does not single out Amazon by name, and notes economic pressures similar to the ones cited Friday by Postal Service officials: declining volume of First Class mail, legal mandates that give it inflexible costs and challenges balancing its books in the face of its pension liabilities and retiree health obligations.



Trump personally pushed postmaster general to double rates on Amazon, other firms
The Washington Post

URL: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business ... story.html
Category: Politics
Published: May 18, 2018

Description: President Trump has personally pushed U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan to double the rate the Postal Service charges Amazon.com and other firms to ship packages, according to three people familiar with their conversations, a dramatic move that probably would cost these companies billions of dollars. Brennan has so far resisted Trump’s demand, explaining in multiple conversations occurring this year and last that these arrangements are bound by contracts and must be reviewed by a regulatory commission, the three people said. She has told the president that the Amazon relationship is beneficial for the Postal Service and gave him a set of slides that showed the variety of companies, in addition to Amazon, that also partner for deliveries. Despite these presentations, Trump has continued to level criticism at Amazon. And last month, his critiques culminated in the signing of an executive order mandating a government review of the financially strapped Postal Service that could lead to major changes in the way it charges Amazon and others for package delivery. Few U.S. companies have drawn Trump’s ire as much as Amazon, which has rapidly grown to be the second-largest U.S. company in terms of market capitalization. For more than three years, Trump has fumed publicly and privately about the giant commerce and services company and its founder Jeffrey P. Bezos, who is also the owner of The Washington Post. Trump alleges that Amazon is being subsidized by the Postal Service. He has also accused The Post of being Amazon’s “chief lobbyist” as well as a tax shelter — false charges. He says Amazon uses these advantages to push bricks-and-mortar companies out of business. Some administration officials say several of Trump’s attacks aimed at Amazon have come in response to articles in The Post that he didn’t like. The three people familiar with these exchanges spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the White House’s internal deliberations. Brennan and Trump have met at the White House about the matter several times, beginning in 2017, and most recently four months ago, the three people said. The meetings have never appeared on Trump’s public schedule. Brennan has spent her career at the Postal Service, starting 32 years ago as a letter carrier. In 2014, the Postal Service’s Board of Governors voted to appoint her as postmaster general. Clouding the matter even further, Trump’s aides have also disagreed internally about whether Amazon is paying enough to the Postal Service, with some believing the giant commerce company should be paying more, while others believe that if it weren’t for Amazon, the Postal Service might be out of business, according to the three people. Trump has met with at least three groups of senior advisers to discuss Amazon’s business practices, probing issues such as whether they pay the appropriate amount of taxes or underpay the Postal Service, according to the three people. These groups include Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, then-National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and Domestic Policy Council Director Andrew Bremberg. Bremberg has served as a key liaison with Brennan. One of Amazon’s biggest defenders within the White House was Cohn, who had told Trump that the Postal Service actually made money on the payments Amazon made for package delivery. Cohn announced his departure from the White House in March. The White House, the Postal Service and Amazon — as well as Bezos, via an Amazon spokesman — declined to comment for this report. While Trump has leveled a variety of criticisms at Amazon, his efforts to increase the company’s shipping and delivery costs stand as the only known official action he’s taken to go after the company. The company, meanwhile, has tread carefully around Trump. It has dramatically expanded its spending on lobbying in the past few years, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, but Amazon officials have not been directly engaged with White House officials about the review, according to the three people familiar with the White House deliberations as well as others familiar with Amazon’s approach. The company has, however, hosted more than a dozen lawmakers and governors at numerous Amazon facilities across the country to impress upon them the company’s economic footprint and job creation potential. On March 7, when the company announced that it would be building a new fulfillment center in Missouri and hiring 1,500 employees, it alerted the state’s two U.S. senators on Twitter, Democrat Claire McCaskill and Republican Roy Blunt. Trump has berated Amazon and The Post on social media, briefly driving down Amazon’s stock price. And he has said publicly that he doesn’t believe the information he has been presented by some of his advisers and Brennan herself regarding the Postal Service’s contract with Amazon. “I am right about Amazon costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy,” he tweeted on April 3. “Amazon should pay these costs (plus) and not have them bourne by the American Taxpayer. Many billions of dollars. P.O. leaders don’t have a clue (or do they?)!” Details of Amazon’s contract with the Postal Service are secret, making it difficult for financial experts to assess claims about the relationship. Amazon has said that publicly releasing the contract, which contains detailed information on the company’s delivery systems, would give competitors an unfair advantage. Amazon primarily uses the Postal Service for the “last mile” of its deliveries. It brings the packages to the post office closest to the final destination, and then the Postal Service takes it from there. The Postal Service says other companies also have “last-mile” agreements with it but declined to name them. Amazon is the leading player in e-commerce but competes with other retail giants such as Walmart, Macy’s and Costco to offer fast and inexpensive delivery of products. The Postal Service competes with UPS, FedEx and others for delivery. Amazon said it spent $21.7 billion on shipping costs in 2017, a figure that includes sorting, delivery center and transportation costs. Roughly 40 percent of its packages are delivered by the Postal Service, according to some analysts, a figure neither Amazon nor the Postal Service have confirmed. It is not known how much Amazon pays the Postal Service each year and what percentage of its items are shipped via the Postal Service. The Postal Service, meanwhile, reported shipping and package income of $19.5 billion last year, an 11.8 percent increase from one year before. This increase wasn’t enough to stop the Postal Service from losing money for the eleventh straight year. That’s largely because of the continued decline in first-class mail, and high health benefit costs that the Postal Service must set aside for future retirees, according to data released by the agency. Delivering packages has been a financial boon to the Postal Service in an otherwise tumultuous time, but experts say it is an open question whether Amazon’s arrangement fully compensates the Postal Service for its range of expenses. While the Postal Service is legally prohibited from charging a shipper less than it costs to deliver a package, the Postal Service is not required to include in its costs things such as retiree benefits. David Vernon, an analyst at Bernstein Research, estimates that Amazon pays the Postal Service roughly $2 per package for each delivery, about half of what Amazon would pay United Parcel Service or FedEx. He based this estimate on broader data released by the Postal Service. The Postal Service has tried to rapidly adjust its business model to take on more package delivery, but he said it would be better suited if it delivered fewer packages at a higher rate. “In my business judgment, there’s too much ‘package’ in the postal network,” he said in an interview. “If you doubled the price, you would have fewer of them, but you would make money off what is left.” Still, Postal Service officials, both in meetings with Trump and publicly, have insisted that they are making money off their arrangement with Amazon. In January, Postal Service spokesman David Partenheimer wrote an op-ed in the Hill newspaper pushing back against calls for it to raise package rates. “Some of our competitors in the package delivery space would dearly love for the Postal Service to aggressively raise our rates higher than the marketplace can bear — so they could either charge more themselves or siphon away postal customers,” he wrote. “. . . The Postal Service is a self-funding public institution that generates its revenue from the sale of postal products and service, we compete for every customer across all of our product categories, and we exist for the benefit of American businesses and consumers.” Because the Postal Service has lost money for 11 straight years, it has had to repeatedly borrow funds from the Treasury Department’s Federal Financing Bank, totaling $15 billion. Its reliance on Federal Financing Bank funds has allowed Mnuchin — one of Trump’s closest advisers — to gain a foothold in its future. One of Mnuchin’s counselors, Craig Phillips, is leading Trump’s review of the Postal Service, along with Kathy Kraninger, associate director for general government at the Office of Management and Budget. It is due in August. The review group is tasked with reviewing the package delivery market, the Postal Service’s role in that market and the decline in first-class mail volume, among other things. It is required to recommend changes to the White House and Congress. The Postal Service is overseen by a board of nine governors, which pick the postmaster general and the deputy postmaster general. Currently, there are no governors serving on the board, though Trump has nominated three individuals who are awaiting Senate confirmation. The Postal Service, led by the postmaster, works out contracts with private companies that are approved by an independent federal agency, the Postal Regulatory Commission, which also assesses each year whether the contracts are in compliance with the law. Amazon has a multiyear contract with the Postal Service, and it is not clear how quickly it could be changed. Trump’s attacks on Amazon date to 2015, when he accused Bezos of using The Post as a tax shelter to allow Amazon to avoid paying taxes, a false accusation. (Amazon is a publicly traded company, and The Post, wholly owned by Bezos, is private. The companies’ finances are not intermingled. The Post’s editors and Bezos also have declared that he is not involved in any journalistic decisions.) Bezos responded to Trump’s 2015 attack with a tweet. “Finally trashed by @realDonaldTrump. Will still reserve him a seat on the Blue Origin rocket. #sendDonaldtospace,” Bezos, who owns a space company, tweeted in December 2015. This angered Trump, who at the time was fighting for credibility during the GOP primary. “Trump takes everything personally,” said Steve Moore, a former economic adviser to Trump during the 2016 campaign. Moore says he has told White House officials that Amazon is paying the Postal Service plenty for its services and in fact helping the agency survive. But others say Trump sees one company exploiting the government for a competitive edge. Amazon’s stock price has risen close to 70 percent in the past year, and a growing list of competitors have complained that they have a hard time competing with the giant company on delivery, its cloud-computing business and more. “I think this particular issue is one that he comes at from his business background and understanding the dynamics of cost and delivery and overhead,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said of Trump’s approach to the postal issue with Amazon. “And so . . . when you put all those components in there, it allows him to probably have a position on this that is deeper rooted in an understanding of a business model than perhaps some other presidents.”



Treasury suggests review of postal rates – but not just for Amazon
The Washington Post

URL: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business ... st-amazon/
Category: Politics
Published: December 4, 2018

Description: A task force commissioned by President Trump to evaluate the Postal Service’s business model is recommending a slew of options to make it more profitable. But it did not go so far as to say the financially strapped Postal Service is losing money to Amazon, a company which contracts services from the Postal Service and that has consistently drawn Trump’s ire. Even though the 70-page report does not specifically cite its contract with Amazon, it does recommend a reevaluation of the pricing for e-commerce packages and other non-essential mail shipped by companies such as Amazon. Earlier this year, Trump pushed Postmaster General Megan Brennan to double the rate the Postal Service charges Amazon and other firms to deliver packages. Trump also signed an executive order in April mandating a government review of the Postal Service. On Tuesday, that task force suggested steps the Postal Service can take to respond to the rise of e-commerce, but senior administration officials said the findings don’t apply to any particular Postal Service customer. Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Specifically, the report recommends a sharpened definition of the Postal Service’s “universal service obligation." The public policy establishes the minimal level of service the government postal service must provide to citizens and businesses. The rise of e-commerce has challenged long-held ideas about that standard — as businesses rely on the Postal Service to deliver not just letters but also products of all sorts. Pharmaceuticals, for example, are considered essential mail. But, say, a T-shirt or a vacuum cleaner would not be. For essential items, the government can step in and offer a subsidy to help cover added cost of delivery. The Postal Service and the Postal Regulatory Commission already have the power to change shipping prices for e-commerce goods. Other changes may have to go through Congress, officials said. In a statement, Brennan said the Postal Service was reviewing the task force’s report. “Reforms are necessary to enable the Postal Service to further reduce costs, grow revenue, compete more effectively, function with greater flexibility to adapt to a dynamic marketplace, and to prudently invest in our future,” Brennan said. The Postal Service has been losing money for more than a decade. According to the report, it is slated to lose tens of billions of dollars more over the next decade. As of the end of fiscal year 2018, the Postal Service balance sheet reflects $89 billion in liabilities against less than $27 billion in assets — a net deficiency of more than $62 billion. Those losses have been compounded by a decline in mail volume and caps on mail pricing. And while e-commerce has boosted package volumes, that revenue is not enough to offset the decline in mail revenue, the report said. Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union, said in a statement that the report’s recommendations would slow down service and reduce delivery days, and that the Postal Service is already equipped to meet e-commerce shipping needs. The union represents 200,000 employees of the Postal Service. “This poorly conceived report makes many of its recommendations based on myth and misinformation that instead of improving mail services, would deliver higher prices and less service for the public,” Dimondstein said. The report also recommends modernizing the Postal Service’s methods for cost standards and allocation so that it can make better-informed management decisions, government policies and regulatory reporting. The Postal Service should also address its rising labor and operating costs, which are expected to grow as the country’s population expands. And the report suggested the Postal Service consider new ways of earning revenue, such as giving private companies licenses to use mailboxes. When Trump pressured Brennan to double the rate the Postal Service charges for Amazon and other firms to ship packages, she told the White House that the Postal Service is bound by contracts and that arrangements would have to be reviewed by a regulatory commission. Brennan told Trump that the Postal Service benefits from its contract with Amazon and noted for him a wide range of other companies that it partners with for deliveries. Amazon, the tech and retail giant founded by Jeffrey P. Bezos, has boomed to become the second-largest U.S. company in terms of market capitalization. Since before taking office, Trump has publicly fumed against Amazon and Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post. In 2015, Trump falsely accused Bezos of using The Post as a tax shelter that helped Amazon avoid paying taxes. Trump has also incorrectly said that Amazon is being subsidized by the Postal Service and suggested The Post is Amazon’s “chief lobbyist.” In an April tweet, Trump said “I am right about Amazon costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy. Amazon should pay these costs (plus) and not have them bourne by the American Taxpayer. Many billions of dollars. P.O. leaders don’t have a clue (or do they?)!” As he does with other foes, Trump has repeated tweets and comments against Amazon. But his push for this review of the Post Office’s practices has been viewed as an official action taken to penalize the company. Amazon transports packages to the post offices that are closest to their final destinations, and then the Postal Service carries them through their “last mile” of delivery. Amazon said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it spent $21.7 billion on shipping costs last year, including sorting, delivery center and transportation expenses. It’s not clear how much of that was paid directly to the Postal Service. The details of Amazon’s contract with the Postal Service are kept under wraps. Amazon has said that making the contract public — as well as publicizing detailed information about Amazon’s own delivery systems — would give its competitors an unfair advantage.
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Trump: "I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election"

Postby admin » Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:44 pm

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Amazon is responsible for a huge chunk of the Trump rally

Postby smix » Fri Mar 30, 2018 1:01 am

Amazon is responsible for a huge chunk of the Trump rally
CNN

URL: http://money.cnn.com/2018/03/29/technol ... index.html
Category: Business
Published: March 29, 2018

Description: Donald Trump clearly hates Amazon. But he really should love it.
Amazon played a major role in two of Trump's biggest accomplishments -- the stock market rally and the white hot US jobs market. Consider this: The collective market value of S&P 500 companies grew by $2.8 trillion since Trump was sworn into office, according to Bespoke Investment Group. Amazon's market value alone grew by $340 billion since Trump's inauguration. That means that about 12% of the "Trump rally" can be attributed to his least favorite company. Amazon (AMZN) has also likely added more jobs than any other single US employer over the past year -- it hired about 225,000 people in 2017. Part of that is because it bought Whole Foods, which had 89,000 employees just after Amazon closed on the deal. Not all of the 136,000 other jobs added at Amazon were in the United States, but a majority of them likely were. The overall US economy added 2.2 million jobs last year, so Amazon is responsible for about 5% of that hiring boom. Trump's latest assault on Amazon blamed the company for forcing other retailers out of business. Last year was a record year for store closings, and there was about a 30% increase in retail bankruptcies, according to BankruptcyData.com. But those stores had plenty of competitive problems that went far beyond the growth of Amazon, including big box stores like Walmart.



Trump vs. Amazon: Let's set the record straight
CNN

URL: http://money.cnn.com/2018/03/29/technol ... index.html
Category: Business
Published: March 29, 2018

Description: Enough. President Trump took aim at Amazon yet again. The president on Thursday tweeted three misleading statements: 1) Amazon pays "little or no taxes to state & local governments," 2) Amazon's relationship with the US Post Office causes "tremendous loss" to the United States and 3) Amazon is "putting many thousands of retailers out of business." Stock in Amazon (AMZN), the fourth most valuable company in the world, fell 3% Thursday morning. It's no secret that Trump hates Amazon. He has repeatedly tweeted how much he dislikes the company. Amazon did not respond for a request for comment on the president's latest criticism. Much of Trump's distaste for Amazon is because CEO Jeff Bezos also owns the Washington Post, whose coverage the president frequently criticizes. Amazon does not hold a stake in the Washington Post. But Trump's criticism of Amazon is not based in fact.
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

1. Taxes
Amazon collects sales tax in every state that charges one and remits it to the states -- and that's virtually every state Years ago, when Amazon had few warehouses, it was able to get a competitive advantage by not charging sales tax. When retailers ship goods to states where they don't have a physical presence, they do not have to charge sales tax. But Amazon has been adding to its national network of distribution centers, and last year it announced it would start charging sales tax in every state, whether it has a physical presence there or not. Amazon also pays local property taxes on its distribution centers as well as on the Whole Foods stores it purchased last year. The company has not disclosed how much its customers pay in sales taxes, but it is considerable. Its North American sales came to $106 billion last year, suggesting that it collects billions in sales taxes for various states. The president is correct that Amazon does not always collect city and local sales taxes, according to analysis earlier this week by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. And it also does not collect sales taxes on purchases made on Amazon from third-party vendors. Third-party vendors had sales of $32 billion on Amazon in 2017, although some of those sales were outside of North America.
2. Postal Service
Amazon pays the post office to deliver packages to customers' doors. Because Amazon ships so many packages though the post office, it pays a lower rate than most customers. But Amazon doesn't get a special rate — it pays the rate that the post office charges other bulk shippers. Amazon also has a special agreement with the Postal Service to deliver packages on Sundays. Neither Amazon nor the post office has disclosed the details of its agreement, but the Postal Service says it's mutually beneficial. Amazon effectively helps the Postal Service spread its costs over a seven-day week. The Postal Service is losing money. But it's not Amazon's fault: Citigroup last year reported that the average parcel rate would need to increase by about 50% for the Postal Service to break even. The Postal Service's biggest money problem is that it has billions in retirement obligations to its workers that it can't afford.
3. Retail
Strong currents are pushing traditional stores to the brink. It is clearly true that consumers' shift to e-commerce companies like Amazon has forced many traditional retailers to close stores. But other megastores like Walmart share much of the blame for that. Amazon says that it actually helps small companies succeed in the difficult retail climate. For example, it allows small businesses to sell their products to a mass audience when they otherwise wouldn't be able to achieve global scale.



Trump continues attacks on Amazon, Washington Post
CNN

URL: https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/31/politics ... index.html
Category: Politics
Published: March 31, 2018

Description: (CNN) - President Donald Trump is continuing his attack against Amazon, accusing the company of scamming the US Postal Service. "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," Trump tweeted Saturday morning. "The Failing N.Y. Times reports that 'the size of the company's lobbying staff has ballooned,' and that......does not include the Fake Washington Post, which is used as a 'lobbyist' and should so REGISTER," the President wrote. "If the P.O. 'increased its parcel rates, Amazon's shipping costs would rise by $2.6 Billion.'" He added, "This Post Office scam must stop. Amazon must pay real costs (and taxes) now."
Is it a 'scam'?
The Postal Service is losing money, but its package delivery service is profitable, unlike its letter delivery. The Postal Service is required by law to cover its costs for delivering competitive products, such as packages for Amazon, and the Postal Regulatory Commission, which oversees the service, set the appropriate share of those costs at 5.5% a little more than a decade ago. Since then, the service's deliveries of those products have grown substantially, and the United Parcel Service argued in a submission to the commission in 2015 that a realistic appropriate share of costs for delivering packages should be about 24.6%. A Citigroup analysis last year found that that difference would amount to about $1.46 per parcel, which might serve as the basis for Trump's $1.50 figure. An op-ed penned in July by Josh Sandbulte in the Wall Street Journal cited that analysis in arguing the Postal Service's estimate of costs for delivering packages should be revised. Sandbulte is co-president of Greenhaven Associates, a money management firm that owns FedEx common stock. In response, US Postal Service executive Joseph Corbett wrote that the op-ed provided an "inaccurate and unfair account," and that the Postal Regulatory Commission has determined each year that the service is covering its costs for package deliveries. Corbett asserted the Postal Service's financial insolvency is the result of its inability to overcome "systemic financial imbalances caused by legal and other constraints," such as a price cap on revenue-producing products that doesn't take changes in delivery volumes and costs into account. The Postal Service's biggest money problem is that it has billions in retirement obligations to its workers that it can't afford.
So what does Amazon pay?
Amazon pays the US post office to deliver packages to customers' doors, including on Sundays, and because Amazon ships so many packages though the post office, it's charged at a lower rate than most customers, CNN has reported. But Amazon does not receive a special rate; it pays the rate that the post office charges other bulk shippers. Neither Amazon nor the post office has disclosed the details of its agreement, but the Postal Service says the deal is mutually beneficial. On Thursday, Trump tweeted another accusation about Amazon not paying "taxes to state & local governments" and "putting many thousands of retailers out of business." Amazon collects sales tax in every state that charges one and remits it to the states, which is nearly every state. Amazon also pays local property taxes on its distribution centers as well as on the Whole Foods stores it purchased last year. Amazon maintains it helps small businesses in a tough retail climate, helping vendors reach a mass audience. This isn't the first time Trump has accused The Washington Post of being a lobbying arm of Amazon. While both companies are owned by Jeff Bezos, Amazon does not have a stake in The Washington Post.



Trump's attacks on Amazon are a problem for your 401(k)
CNN

URL: http://money.cnn.com/2018/04/03/investi ... index.html
Category: Business
Published: April 4, 2018

Description: President Trump says he wants to protect American taxpayers by going after Amazon. But his attacks are hurting Amazon's market value — and that may be hurting you. If you're invested in the stock market, odds are you have at least a small stake in Amazon, most likely through an index fund. CEO Jeff Bezos owns a 16% stake in the company. After that, the five largest shareholders are mutual fund companies, which run many employee 401(k) plans and increasingly popular exchange-traded funds that track the S&P 500. Vanguard, T. Rowe Price, Fidelity, BlackRock and State Street Global Advisors collectively own nearly 20% of Amazon's shares, according to data from FactSet Research. The research firm eVestment said in a recent report that Amazon was the 10th most widely held stock owned by large institutions as of late last year. Amazon was a holding in 14% of the nearly 6,800 funds tracked by eVestment. Amazon is the fourth-largest stock in the S&P, worth more than $660 billion. So when Amazon has a bad day — as it did Monday, losing 5% after anti-Amazon tweets from the president — the broader market suffers. Amazon has lost $60 billion in market value since Axios first reported last week that Trump wants to "go after" the company. After that report, Trump began attacking the company with misleading tweets about taxes and bulk shipping rates. Concerns about increased regulatory scrutiny for Facebook and Google in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal are also hurting the market, which has grown increasingly dominated by the tech sector lately. Google is the second largest company by market value, and Facebook is sixth. Apple is the largest company and Microsoft is the third-biggest. Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway is the fifth most valuable. It recently leapfrogged Facebook as a result of Facebook's stock slide. Amazon's stock bounced back Tuesday and closed higher. But shares are still down about 7% since Trump escalated his feud with the company and have tumbled 13% from the all-time high they set in mid-March. So there are probably a lot of disgruntled Amazon shareholders out there who would like to see Trump stop bashing the company.



Ex-Treasury secretary compares Trump to Mussolini
CNN

URL: http://money.cnn.com/2018/04/05/news/tr ... index.html
Category: Politics
Published: April 5, 2018

Description: Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers believes President Trump's recent attacks on Amazon are un-American.

mussolini-trump.jpg

"Going on jihads with the power of the federal government against companies whose CEOs' private activity he doesn't find congenial — that's not the stuff of democracy," Summers said in an interview Thursday on CNN's "New Day. "That's the stuff of much more totalitarian countries." Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos privately owns the Washington Post, which Trump often derides as "fake news" for reporting on the administration. Trump has claimed without evidence that the Post is a "lobbying group for Amazon." In the past week, Trump has fired off five false or misleading tweets about Amazon, including that the company doesn't pay state and local taxes and is causing the Postal Service to lose money. (Amazon collects sales tax in every state that charges one and remits it to the states, and it also pays the post office to deliver packages to customers' doors.) Trump's tweets, as well as reports raising the possibility the Trump administration may look into tighter regulation or antitrust lawsuits against Amazon, have driven down the company's stock. "Make no mistake, that's a Mussolini tactic, not an American tactic," Summers said of Trump targeting a private company. He called Trump's tweets "potentially quite dangerous for our business confidence." Summers, a Democrat, led the Treasury Department under President Clinton and served as President Obama's top economic adviser from 2009-2010. He has been an outspoken critic of Trump and the administration's economic policies in the past. The former Treasury secretary said Trump's attacks on Amazon should make "pro-business Republicans" nervous. "It's the kind of thing that if a liberal, progressive Democrat did, they would be berserk about how dangerous it was for the economy," Summers said.



Trump orders Postal Service review after attacking Amazon
CNN

URL: http://money.cnn.com/2018/04/13/news/co ... index.html
Category: Politics
Published: April 13, 2018

Description: President Trump stepped up his long-running battle with Amazon, ordering a federal task force to investigate the Postal Service's finances. The executive order issued late Thursday night does not mention Amazon by name, but Amazon is the subtext. Trump has frequently complained that Amazon takes advantage of the post office. Trump is angry at Amazon in part because its CEO, Jeff Bezos, is also the owner of The Washington Post, whose coverage Trump complaints about. The Postal Service is a government agency, but it operates as an independent business without direct taxpayer support. The order points out that the post office has lost $65 billion over the last 11 fiscal years. "It shall be the policy of my administration that the United States postal system operate under a sustainable business model to provide necessary mail services to citizens and businesses, and to compete fairly in commercial markets," Trump wrote in the order. In his previous tweets, Trump has insisted that the Postal Service is losing money on the package deliveries it handles for Amazon.
I am right about Amazon costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy. Amazon should pay these costs (plus) and not have them bourne by the American Taxpayer. Many billions of dollars. P.O. leaders don't have a clue (or do they?)!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 3, 2018

Amazon has a confidential agreement with the Postal Service under which it delivers large numbers of packages directly to the post office nearest to where they need to be delivered. The Postal Service then delivers the packages to their destinations. The Postal Service says the law requires that such negotiated contracts must cover the Postal Service's costs and that postal regulators have studied the contract and approved it. Amazon also has a special agreement with the Postal Service to deliver packages on Sundays in a limited number of major markets. Neither Amazon nor the post office has disclosed the details of that agreement, but the Postal Service says it's mutually beneficial. Citigroup last year found that Postal Service prices would have to go up by $1.41 per package — about 40% — to reflect the true cost of delivery for all its customers. The Citigroup analysts estimate that would add $2.6 billion to Amazon's shipping costs, an increase of 28%. Amazon has disputed those estimates. The executive order noted that the post office's problems are caused by many factors: steep declines in first class mail, laws that require the service to deal with large inflexible costs, and revenue that no longer covers pension and retiree health obligations. "The USPS is on an unsustainable financial path and must be restructured to prevent a taxpayer-funded bailout," Trump said in the order. The Postal Service issued a statement Friday welcoming the task force. "As we have repeatedly stressed, these business model problems are serious, but solvable, and the President's executive order ... provides an opportunity to further consider these important public policy issues," the statement said. Although the revenue from both first class letters and other types of mail, such as magazines, has steadily declined, online shopping has driven package delivery demand higher. The post office's most recent fiscal report shows package and parcel delivery was up $1.6 billion, or 19%, last year, at a time when revenue from all other types of mail fell by $2.5 billion, or 4%. A major part of the Postal Service's financial problems is a government mandate that it pay up front for retiree pension and health care expenses. Those obligations for current and past employees stood at $38 billion at the end of its most recent fiscal year. Private businesses that have retiree benefit obligations are not required to pay those amounts up front.



Postal Service losses soar to $1.3 billion, but don't blame Amazon
CNN

URL: http://money.cnn.com/2018/05/11/news/co ... index.html
Category: Business
Published: May 11, 2018

Description: Losses more than doubled at the US Postal Service in the first three months of the year to $1.3 billion. But that's not Amazon's fault. President Donald Trump has frequently complained that Amazon takes advantage of the post office, which has a contract to help deliver many of the online shopping giant's packages. Last month he created a federal task force to look into the Postal Service's finances. The Postal Service is a government agency, but it operates as an independent business without direct taxpayer support. It has lost $65 billion over the last 11 fiscal years. The agency said Friday that it has been hurt by the ongoing decline in traditional mail, coupled with increased costs for retiree benefits. Revenue from first class mail and junk mail, which the Postal Service refers to as "marketing mail," fell by $181 million, or a 1.4%. The Postal Service's package business, by contrast, is the one segment experiencing strong and steady growth. Its sales grew by $445 million, "I am right about Amazon costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy. Amazon should pay these costs (plus) and not have them bourne by the American Taxpayer. Many billions of dollars. P.O. leaders don't have a clue (or do they?)!" he tweeted last month. Amazon has a confidential agreement with the Postal Service under which it delivers large numbers of packages directly to the post office nearest to where they need to be delivered. The Postal Service then delivers the packages the "last mile" to their destinations. The Postal Service says the law requires that such negotiated contracts cover its costs, and that regulators have studied the Amazon contract and approved it. Amazon also has a special agreement with the Postal Service to deliver packages on Sundays in limited major markets. Neither Amazon nor the post office have disclosed the details of that agreement, but the Postal Service says it's mutually beneficial. This kind of confidential contract is not unusual for the Postal Service. Many large shippers negotiate them. They pay rates based on volume and what the post office has to do to make the deliveries.



Donald Trump's long and dramatic history with Jeff Bezos
CNN

URL: https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/08/politics ... index.html
Category: Politics
Published: February 8, 2019

Description: (CNN) - On Thursday, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos took the extraordinary step of posting a personal essay alleging that the National Enquirer offered to bury embarrassing personal photos of him -- stemming from an extramarital affair -- if an investigator working for Bezos would stop referring to the alleged "politically motivated" nature of the leak pictures. Bezos wrote in the essay that he refused this extortion attempt -- and went public with the whole sordid tale instead. (The National Enquirer was first to report that Bezos was involved in an affair with a woman named Lauren Sanchez. Bezos had announced just before the report that he and his wife, Mackenzie, were seeking a divorce.) Few details have been offered to back up the claim from Bezos' investigator -- a man named Gavin de Becker -- that there was a political motivation to the Enquirer's coverage of the Amazon chief. It's also not clear why American Media Inc., the parent company of the Enquirer, were so fixated on trying to stop de Becker from labeling their coverage politically motivated. However, Manuel Roig-Franzia, a reporter for The Washington Post who spoke with de Becker recently, said this on MSNBC Thursday night (bolding is mine): "They have begun to believe, the Bezos camp, that this publication by the National Enquirer might have been politically motivated. Gavin de Becker told us that he does not believe that Jeff Bezos's phone was hacked. He thinks it's possible that a government entity might have gotten hold of his text messages." Wait, what? I'd like to know WAY more about that. What we do know -- and to be clear, there's much more that we DON'T -- are two very basic things:
1) Donald Trump and AMI boss David Pecker have a very long friendship that, on at least one occasion, has led to the Enquirer paying a woman (Karen McDougal) for the rights to her story that she had an affair with Trump in the mid-2000s and then never running that story.
2) Trump has long been antagonistic to Bezos publicly. How antagonistic? Very. "The @washingtonpost loses money (a deduction) and gives owner @JeffBezos power to screw public on low taxation of @Amazon," Trump tweeted in December 2015. "Big tax shelter" (Sidebar: This claim does not appear to be founded in fact.) "Washington Post employees want to go on strike because Bezos isn't paying them enough," Trump tweeted in June 2018. "I think a really long strike would be a great idea. Employees would get more money and we would get rid of Fake News for an extended period of time! Is @WaPo a registered lobbyist?" Following the Enquirer's report that Bezos was engaged in an extramarital affair, Trump tweeted this last month: "So sorry to hear the news about Jeff Bozo being taken down by a competitor whose reporting, I understand, is far more accurate than the reporting in his lobbyist newspaper, the Amazon Washington Post. Hopefully the paper will soon be placed in better & more responsible hands!" (In addition to attacking Bezos, Trump has repeatedly referred to the "Washington Post" as the "Amazon Washington Post"; Amazon does not own the Post, Bezos owns it.) Asked by reporters about the news of Bezos' divorce around that same time, Trump said this: "I wish him luck, I wish him luck. It's going to be a beauty." It's worth noting that Trump has not *always* been antagonistic toward Bezos -- especially prior to his decision to run for president. Trump -- seemingly admiringly -- tweeted a Bezos quote ("If you never want to be criticized, for goodness' sake don't do anything new.") in 2014. Bezos had purchased the Washington Post in 2013. Does any of the above mean that the allegations of political motivation in the leaked text and pictures to the Enquirer should be tied to Trump? No. But Trump has made his feelings about Bezos, Amazon and The Washington Post very clear for years now. And those feelings are decidedly negative.
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Amazon customers are fiercely loyal — and this is why Trump’s tweets won’t change that

Postby smix » Fri Mar 30, 2018 5:07 pm

Amazon customers are fiercely loyal — and this is why Trump’s tweets won’t change that
MarketWatch

URL: https://www.marketwatch.com/Story/trump ... 2018-03-30
Category: Business
Published: March 30, 2018

Description: As the Amazon brand becomes monolithic, does it risk losing customer adoration?
President Trump is decidedly in the minority when it comes to disliking Amazon. Amazon’s stock fell sharply Wednesday following a report from online news outlet Axios that quoted an unidentified source saying that Trump was looking for ways to target the online retailer. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders played down the report later that day, only for Trump to tweet criticisms of Amazon on Thursday morning and send its stock reeling again. “I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election,” Trump wrote. While Trump may not be a fan of Amazon — or its multibillionaire founder Jeff Bezos — consumers aren’t likely to turn their backs on the company anytime soon, analysts say. And Trump’s tweets probably won’t change consumer perception much, said Scott Galloway, a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business and author of “The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google.” “The core base of Trump [supporters] who are inclined to like or not like whatever he likes or doesn’t like quite frankly is not Amazon’s target market,” Galloway said. “I see no evidence that consumers have any trepidation regarding Amazon.” In 2017, Amazon.com ranked as the top brand in the U.S. in terms of positive buzz among the American public, according to YouGov BrandIndex, the division of the global analytics firm that tracks public perception of brands through daily online surveys. It was the fifth straight year Amazon.com topped the annual ranking, beating powerful brands like Netflix, YouTube and Google. Separately, Amazon Prime — the retailer’s $99 a year membership program, which comes with various perks — ranked third on the YouGov BrandIndex list. (Amazon did not respond to a request for comment regarding this story.) All told, 33% more people have favorable opinions of Amazon.com rather than negative. For Amazon Prime, that figure was 28% in 2017. Amazon not only attracts positive opinions — but also loyalty. A June 2016 study from Chicago-based research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, found that 91% of first-year Amazon Prime subscribers renewed for a second year, up from just over 80% in 2014. That figure was even higher among second-year Amazon Prime members: 96% of them chose to keep their membership for a third year.
Why Amazon succeeds at staying in consumers’ good graces
Amazon has earned that positive perception and loyalty by following in the footsteps of another once-dominant retailer, said Michael Levin, partner and co-founder of Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. “The nearest analogy I can think of is Sears,” Levin said. “Sears went from being a retailer to provide financial services and home repair services.” Unlike with 132-year-old Sears, which has struggled to remain relevant as it closes stores and sales decline, Amazon’s attempt at diversifying its offerings has paid off in the longer term. Amazon Prime transformed from a subscription service offering free two-day shipping and discounted one-day shipping to a service that gives consumers movie and music streaming, photo storage and access to a massive library of e-books, among other features. And now with its Echo smart speaker and the Alexa virtual assistant, Amazon is becoming a leader in the home automation space. And studies have shown that these devices further solidify brand loyalty and encourage consumers to spend more.
But Amazon could come up against the risks associated with ubiquity
Retail dominance is not without its drawbacks. Take Walmart: As the big-box retailer became a behemoth in the American retail landscape, detractors came out of the woodwork. The company faced criticism for underpaying workers, and importing too many of its products from overseas. Documentaries showcased how the retailer’s low prices ultimately forced many mom-and-pop businesses to shutter when they couldn’t keep up. Although it still lags behind Walmart and other brick-and-mortar rivals in terms of revenue, Amazon is — at least in the minds of many Americans — now moving into the role of “the 800-pound gorilla in the retail space” that Walmart once filled, said Ted Marzilli, CEO of Data Products at YouGov and leader of the BrandIndex business unit. That could open the brand up to increased criticism. Cracks are already beginning to show. Research has shown that Amazon hurts local retail employment and that its warehouses may prompt lower wages in the communities where they are located. Then there’s the risk of Amazon becoming a necessary evil, similar to a company like Facebook, which some users regard as a tool they depend on reluctantly. But Amazon has a weapon against this, Levin said: Its strong customer service policies, which help to counteract negative sentiment on the part of shoppers and Prime members. And much like Facebook it will take a lot more than a single scandal to prompt a mass exodus from Amazon. “There’s a lot of consumer dissonance,” said Galloway. “Consumers talk a big game about social justice but they want that little black dress for $9.99 and that espresso pot delivered for free.”
Why Trump remains a threat to Amazon
If there is a revolution against Amazon, it won’t be consumer-led, Galloway argued. Some argue that Trump may talk big but is unlikely to act on his tweets. But if Trump’s tweets indicate his policy perspective, that would spell trouble for the retailer. Some have said Bezos’ ownership of The Washington Post could become a sticking point for Trump based on the paper’s coverage. Hedge fund manager Douglas Kass warned last July, in the wake of Amazon’s Whole Foods acquisition, that the company could soon come up against a government-led antitrust case. “I am shorting Amazon today because I have learned that there are currently early discussions and due diligence being considered in the legislative chambers in Washington, D.C. with regard to possible antitrust opposition to Amazon’s business practices,” Kass, who is the head of Seabreeze Partners Management, wrote at the time. Japanese regulators raised antitrust concerns against Amazon’s unit there this month for the second time in two years.



Trump claim about Amazon and post office contradicted by AP
MarketWatch

URL: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/trump ... 2018-03-31
Category: Business
Published: March 31, 2018

Description: The Associated Press reported Saturday afternoon, in the wake of a pair of tweets from President Donald Trump earlier in the day asserting, among other things, that the U.S. Postal Service loses an average of $1.50 per delivery executed for e-commerce giant Amazon.com, that the president is incorrect in that claim. While the post office has lost money on an annual basis for more than a decade, according to the AP, package delivery is not the reason. In fact, according to the AP, Amazon and e-commerce in general have helped the post office achieve double-digit percentage gains in parcel-delivery revenue. Pension and health-care costs and declines in first-class and marketing mail business are more fairly to be blamed for the post office's overall business performance. Federal regulators, the AP noted, have determined the post office's servicing of Amazon to be profitable to the post office.



Amazon stock extends fall after Trump tweets ‘concerns’ about U.S. Postal Service, taxes
MarketWatch

URL: https://www.marketwatch.com/Story/amazo ... 2018-03-29
Category: Business
Published: April 2, 2018

Description: Experts, and the Postal Service itself, say the president is mistaken about the source of the post office’s financial woes
President Donald Trump tweeted early Thursday about his “concerns” that e-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc. isn’t paying its fair share of taxes and is hurting the U.S. Postal Service, sending shares initially to a seven-week low before they recovered in late trade. The stock AMZN slumped 4.0% in morning trade Monday, and have shed 13% since the March 12 record close of $1,598.39. An Axios report late week quoted sources saying the president continued to complain that Amazon is taking advantage of the USPS despite the fact that it has “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.” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders later said the administration had no specific policies or actions under consideration. “I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election,” Trump tweeted Thursday. “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!” A New York Times report published over the weekend said Amazon is “collecting sales tax in every state that has one,” though the same may not be said for taxes by every local government at every level. Trump also tweeted over the weekend that the USPS loses an average of $1.50 on each package it delivers for Amazon. Meanwhile, an Associated Press report over the weekend said federal regulators have reviewed Amazon’s deal with the USPS and determined it was profitable. The post office told MarketWatch it had no comment on the matter. Stifel analyst Scott Devitt also argued following the tweet that Trump is wrong about the tax and USPS components. “In the U.S., Amazon collects sales tax on its owned inventory in all 45 states that have a state sales tax and Washington, D.C,” he wrote. “We believe POTUS is referring to third-party (3P) merchants that sell on the Amazon platform, accounting for ~50% of unit volume. This is not a new issue, and taxing 3P merchants actually favorably positions Amazon relative to its peers.” As for the USPS, Devitt wrote that “Amazon does use USPS but, if an arrangement were to become uneconomic to Amazon, Amazon has plenty of options.” There have been reports that Amazon is in the process of launching its own shipping service. “Shipping costs, which include sortation and delivery center and transportation costs, were $11.5 billion, $16.2 billion, and $21.7 billion in 2015, 2016, and 2017,” Amazon wrote in a 10-K filing for 2017. The company said it expects those costs to increase as more customers use the service, and as Amazon lowers rates, uses more expensive services and offers additional services. Stifel’s Devitt added that Trump is correct on the effect of Amazon on retailers because “efficient retailers have been displacing inefficient retailers since the beginning of time.” He reiterated his buy rating on Amazon shares and his $1,800 price target. Retailers are grappling with the swift consumer shift to digital, with companies across the spectrum from Walmart Inc. to Target Corp. to H&M Hennes & Mauritz taking steps to offer the e-commerce service and convenience that shoppers crave. In its most recent financial results posted Feb. 9, the U.S. Postal Service said that it had controllable income for the first quarter of 2018, which covers Oct. 1, 2017 to Dec. 31, 2017, of $353 million, down from $522 million the prior year. The Postal Service attributed the decline to a decrease in first-class and marketing mail volumes, retiree health benefit expenses that have climbed to $140 million and higher transportation costs, which have reached $109 million. First-class mail revenue fell 4.4% to $6.68 billion and marketing mail revenue dropped 5.3% to $4.45 billion during the latest quarter, while shipping and packages revenue climbed 9.3% to $5.92 bilion. “Although we continue to win customers and grow our package business, these gains are not sufficient to offset continuing declines in our mail business, which is our main source of revenue and contribution,” said Postmaster General and CEO Megan Brennan. In a December statement from Postmaster General Brennan, she called for a change to the current “regulatory system,” saying the Consumer Price Index price cap “does not work” and hinders the organization’s ability to provide reliable service. “We continue to believe that any price cap is unnecessary in the rapidly evolving postal marketplace, for which all of our customers have alternatives to using the mail,” the statement said. “We seek a regulatory system that gives the Postal Service the flexibility to adopt the pricing innovations that will be critical to our ability to compete in the marketplace and to create business value for our customers both today and in the future.” Amazon shares are up 57% for the past year, outpacing the S&P 500 index which is up 11%.



Trump’s attacks on Amazon break with history of presidents keeping hands off
MarketWatch

URL: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/trump ... 2018-04-02
Category: Business
Published: April 2, 2018

Description: After the industry rebuffed the White House’s request not to raise prices, the president publicly denounced the CEOs, opened a federal investigation and shifted some contracts to firms that toed the government line. Donald Trump’s Washington? No. Try the Kennedy administration during a 1962 standoff with the U.S. steel industry. White House conflicts with business are not uncommon. Presidents have often been critical of big businesses or how they operate. In recent years, drugmakers have come under fire for raising prices, for example, and other firms have been assailed for moving their headquarters outside the U.S. in a process known as a corporate inversion. What’s unprecedented about Trump’s criticism of Amazon.com Inc., however, is the frequency and intensity of his attacks and an apparent personal animus toward company owner Jeff Bezos. Going all the way back to the early 1900s, presidents have shied away from singling out specific companies. They usually stick to more general, if infrequent, industry criticism and use milder language unlikely to roil stock markets. That’s not the case in Trump vs. Amazon. The president first started bashing Amazon on Twitter in December 2015 after polls showed he was the frontrunner to win the Republican nomination. The editorial page of the Washington Post, acquired by Bezos a few years earlier, became an early and frequent critic of the future president. Trump has not let up. He’s issued 13 tweets critical of Amazon since the middle of 2017, including a barrage in the past five days targeting the company’s shipping deal with the U.S. Post Office. He’s claimed the post office loses money even though independent analysis shows the USPS makes a profit on the deal. The attacks on Amazon, along with a spate of new White House tariffs, have clearly unnerved investors. The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank nearly 460 points Monday after Trump hinted that the post office contract could be reworked in a way that would be more costly for Amazon. The only historical episode that shows any resemblance is Kennedy’s fight with the steel industry 56 years ago. Worried about inflation, the White House brokered a deal in which union workers accepted a smaller raise than they wanted and the steelmakers tacitly agreed not to raise steel prices. When the biggest steel companies reneged and raised prices, an enraged JFK publicly criticized “a tiny handful of steel executives whose pursuit of power and profit exceeds their sense of public responsibility.” Everyone knew who he meant. The White House didn’t stop there. The Justice Department, led by Robert Kennedy, probed the price increases and reportedly sent FBI agents to interview steel executives at their homes. The Defense Department also shifted some submarine contracts to smaller steelmakers that declined to raise prices. The steel industry backed down, but the standoff frightened Wall Street much like Trump’s attacks on Amazon today. The Dow began to slide in 1961, but it sank another 20% after the steel standoff. The attack by Trump is not entirely without precedent, though. In one instance his predecessor, Barack Obama, called out a company that earned his displeasure. In 2015, Obama criticized the office superstore Staples for supposedly cutting pay for workers and keeping their hours down to avoid health-care costs associated with the law commonly known as Obamacare. Staples countered by saying the “president appears not to have all the facts.” Obama did not criticize Staples again publicly.



Tough to sue Trump for Amazon tweets, says expert
MarketWatch

URL: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/tough ... 2018-04-03
Category: Business
Published: April 3, 2018

Description: Some Amazon.com Inc. shareholders may want to sue President Donald Trump for tanking the stock with his tweets. But while regulators can check to see if anyone close to the president traded ahead of his attacks on Jeff Bezos and Amazon’s contract with the U.S. Post Office, the chances of holding Trump accountable for sending Amazon shares, and the rest of the tech sector, into a nosedive are slim. Trump has been on a constant rant against Amazon in the past several days, targeting the company’s shipping deal with the Post Office in particular. According to a report late Monday in Vanity Fair, Trump is “obsessed” with Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos and is actively seeking ways to damage the company. Trump continued the attack Tuesday, again claiming the Post Office loses money on its deal with Amazon, even though independent analysts say it makes a profit on the deal. “He really wants the Post Office deal renegotiated. He thinks Amazon’s getting a huge f---ing deal on shipping,” according to Vanity Fair’s account of comments from a Republican source. The president is entitled to express his opinion even if he might get his facts wrong, absent a stock trade or a connection to the company, according to Ira Matetsky, an attorney with Ganfer and Shore. “At end of day, unless there are significant facts we don’t already know, it would be very tough for either investors or a regulator to bring a case against the president for his Amazon tweets,” Matetsky told MarketWatch. The Wall Street Journal reported in December 2016 that Trump had sold all of his individual stock holdings that June, according to a transition spokesman. The president’s financial disclosure made on June 14, 2017, said that the value of his Amazon shares, previously held in the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust, were valued at $0 as of April 15, and that he had received $15,000-$50,000 in capital gains from selling the shares. If someone in the White House or close to Trump knew he would send the tweets that slammed Amazon, and found a way to dump their shares or short the stock, there could be a claim against them — and Trump himself — if he knowingly tipped them off, under insider-trading laws. If the president had instead planned to announce cancellation of the Postal Service contract, or an order to investigate the company, a reasonable person would expect that such a specific action would have an impact on the stock price. “If someone else with a duty to disclose sold on advance knowledge of those type of announcements, then there may be an SEC or DOJ investigation for insider trading,” according to Matetsky. Given Trump’s penchant for early morning tweets and the tendency for White House spokespersons to tell reporters, “The president’s tweets speak for themselves,” it’s not clear if the president gave anyone a heads up so they could trade ahead. Is the president just trying to manipulate the Amazon stock price? “Perhaps he just wants to antagonize Jeff Bezos,” says Matetsky, “but with no evidence of any trades and no personal connection to Amazon, a stock manipulation or insider-trading case would be tough for anyone to bring.” Amazon stayed in negative territory for most of Tuesday’s session before rebounding to end up slightly by the end of the day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average recovered and so did the tech sector, including Apple, Tesla and Netflix, after a massive selloff Monday.



Post office blames U.S. government — not Amazon — for billion-dollar loss
MarketWatch

URL: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/post- ... 2018-05-11
Category: Business
Published: May 11, 2018

Description: Postmaster says losses reflect an ‘inflexible, legislatively mandated business model’ and systemic marketplace trends
The U.S. Postal Service placed most of the blame for the $1.3 billion it lost in its second fiscal quarter on “inflexible” government policy, and some of it on inflation and a decline in first-class mail, but it did not blame any of it on delivery deals made with customers, including, notably, Amazon.com Inc. The net loss for the quarter ended March 31 widened from $562 million in the same period a year ago. The “controllable” loss, which excludes items that are not recurring and outside of management’s control, was $656 million, after a profit of $12 million last year. Total revenue rose 1.4% to $17.50 billion, as 9.5% growth in shipping and package revenue and a 15% rise in international revenue helped offset a 2.5% drop in first-class mail and a 0.4% decline in marketing mail. First-class-mail revenue of $6.46 billion represented 36.9% of total revenue, down from 38.3% last year, while the percentage of shipping and package revenue increased to 29.4% from 27.3%. USPS called the controllable loss primarily a result of a $236 million increase in retiree health-benefits costs because of changes in actuarial assumptions and a $364 million rise in compensation expenses to support its “labor-intensive package business” and contractual wage adjustments. Higher fuel costs and highway-contract-rate inflation lifted transportation expenses by $155 million. In addition to controllable expenses, unfunded retiree benefits and retiree health benefits jumped $766 million because of changes in actuarial assumptions, while worker-compensation expenses declined $658 million because of changes in interest rates. USPS said it would take “urgently needed legislative and regulatory changes,” as well as continued management actions, to return to financial stability. “Despite growth in our package business, our financial results reflect systemic trends in the marketplace and the effects of an inflexible, legislatively mandated business model that limits our ability to generate sufficient revenue and imposes costs upon us that we cannot afford,” said Postmaster General Megan Brennan. That seems to differ from comments made by President Donald Trump last month. Trump said the USPS was losing “billions of dollars” because of a “Delivery Boy” deal with Amazon, under which, he said, the post office lost an average of $1.50 on each package delivered for the e-commerce giant. At that time, the post office told MarketWatch it had no comment on the matter. After many contradicted the president’s claims, including former Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, Trump issued an executive order on April 12 calling for an evaluation of the post office’s finances. In the past, one USPS complaints was with a government-imposed rate-setting system, which forced the post office to remove a 2-cents-per-stamp increase for a first-class letter back in 2016. “America needs a financially strong Postal Service that can invest in its future and can continue to fulfill the needs of American businesses and consumers,” Brennan said. “With continued aggressive management and greater legal authority to respond to changes in our marketplace and to control our costs, the Postal Service can return to financial sustainability.” The USPS’s results come at a time that, over the past three months, shares of package-delivery service United Parcel Service Inc. have rallied nearly 9% and those of rival FedEx Corp. have climbed almost 7%, while Amazon’s stock has soared 20% and the S&P 500 index has gained over 4%.



Trump pressured U.S. postmaster general to jack up shipping rates for Amazon
MarketWatch

URL: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/trump ... atest_news
Category: Politics
Published: May 19, 2018

Description: President Trump personally pressured Postmaster General Megan Brennan to double the charges Amazon and other firms pay to ship packages, a new report said Friday. Brennan resisted Trump’s demand, explaining “in multiple conversations” that the rates are set in contracts and that any changes would have to be approved by regulators, the Washington Post reported. She also told Trump that the Amazon relationship was beneficial for the Postal Service and that many other companies also partner with the service for deliveries. Despite her arguments, Trump has continued slamming Amazon, whose founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, owns the Washington Post, whose coverage of Team Trump is often critical — or “fake,” in the words of the president. Trump has raged in public and private about Amazon and Bezos. Trump claims that Amazon is being subsidized by the U.S. Postal Service and has accused the Washington Post of being Amazon’s “chief lobbyist.” Some administration officials told the paper that several of Trump’s attacks aimed at Amazon came in response to articles in the Post that he didn’t like. Trump has met with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, then–National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and Domestic Policy Council Director Andrew Bremberg to discuss raising Amazon’s rates, the paper reported. Trump has slammed Amazon and the Post on social media, briefly driving down Amazon’s stock price. And he has stated that he doesn’t believe the information his advisers and Brennan have shared with him about the Postal Service’s contract with Amazon. “I am right about Amazon costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy,” he tweeted on April 3. “Amazon should pay these costs (plus) and not have them bourn [sic] by the American Taxpayer. Many billions of dollars. P.O. leaders don’t have a clue (or do they?)!” Still, U.S. Postal Service officials insisted they make money on their arrangement with Amazon. In January, Postal Service spokesman David Partenheimer wrote an op-ed for the Hill pushing back against calls for it to raise package rates. “Some of our competitors in the package delivery space would dearly love for the Postal Service to aggressively raise our rates higher than the marketplace can bear — so they could either charge more themselves or siphon away postal customers,” he wrote.



Trading on Trump’s tweets would have left you sad and poorer
MarketWatch

URL: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/tradi ... 2017-01-27
Category: Business
Published: January 27, 2017

Description: Investors don’t care what Trump tweets, and the record shows they’re right
Donald Trump tweets about a company, and its shares quake at his wrath. The president now is aiming at auto companies, trying to bludgeon Ford, General Motors and Toyota into expanding small-car production in the U.S. — reversing decades-old trends of moving the manufacturing of mostly lower-priced, often-unprofitable cars to Mexico, even as Mexican presidents past and present flip The Donald the bird. Stop quaking. Trump’s Twitter missives have no lasting effect on stocks. I created a list of affected companies, generated by Yahoo Finance, then deleted the privately owned ones. This left 37 public companies about which Trump has tweeted nastygrams since 2012. Trump has been wrong, from an investing standpoint, on 29 of them. In fact, if you shorted 100 shares of each of these 37 companies on the day Trump slammed them, you’re down 37% as of Thursday’s close. Sad! What does this tell us? Investors and CEOs should pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. The tweeter-in-chief can huff and puff, but he can’t blow your house down. Investors don’t care what he tweets, and the record shows they’re right not to. It’s amusing to see the breadth of businesses Trump is wrong about. He’s wrong about tech. Wrong about media, mainstream or otherwise. Wrong about wind power. Wrong about Coca-Cola, Warren Buffett and ESPN. Wrong about Hollywood. Wrong about markets and policy. Wrong about cellphone companies. And atop all this wrongness is Trump’s pan of Facebook’s 2012 initial public offering (“hard to believe it could be worth that much”), which came with unsolicited marital advice for founder Mark Zuckerberg — “Get a prenup!” Maybe because I went to high school with the paparazzo who got the famous shot of Trump’s first two wives squaring off on the ski slopes, the thought of the first three-times-married president doling out both marital and stock advice in the same 140 characters is hilarious. Lawyers, by the way, say Zuckerberg didn’t really need a prenuptial agreement to protect himself from a divorce, because he got rich before he got married, which was right after the offering. Shareholders got rich later: Facebook shares are up 247%.
Let’s review:
Trump was bearish on Apple in 2014 — “I sold my Apple” — because it didn’t match Samsung’s big-screen phones, until it did. Apple shares since then are up 66%. Trump was bearish on Amazon.com — “Jeff Bezos ... no-profit company” — in December 2015. The stock is up 25% since. Trump was wrong about Sony — “stupid leadership” — in December 2014 amid the now-ironic revelation of its hacked emails. Shares of Sony are up 58% since. Trump was wrong about American Airlines Group, panning its USAirways merger in 2013. Since then, American Airlines shares have gained 241%. He’s been wrong about the New York Times Co, which is up 4% since Trump called it a “dying paper” in 2016. Wrong about Gannett and Tegna, the since-split-up publishers of “boring” USA Today, which have doubled in value since Trump tweeted in 2012 that he’d canceled his subscription to the newspaper. (Trump overlooked Gannett’s thriving TV business. Which is not, like, really smart! I worked for Gannett at the time — I made a ton.) Trump was wrong about Walt Disney, shares of which have doubled since drawing Trump’s ire in 2013 for apologizing after ESPN announcer Brent Musburger got a little too honest on air about the hotness of the girlfriend of the University of Alabama’s quarterback. Trump was wrong about Microsoft, where he claimed unhappy investors were scheming to fire Bill Gates as chairman in 2013, when the stock was 90% lower. Trump was wrong about J.P. Morgan Chase, shares of which are now 51% higher, for complaining that it settled lawsuits too easily. This litany of wrongs goes on with Google parent Alphabet, which Trump accused of suppressing negative news about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. With Procter & Gamble, Trump knocked it for moving its beauty business to Singapore in 2012, which P&G did for the eminently sensible reason that Asia was its fastest-growing market. P&G stock is up 36% Charter Communications was another miss. Trump in 2012 tweeted that the company gives bad service (“a disaster”). A disaster, that is, whose shares have quadrupled since. And T-Mobile US shares are up 96% since Trump said the same about that company in 2015. Want more? Trump was wrong about S&P Global, which has tripled since Trump knocked the bond-rating agency for downgrading U.S. bonds in 2011, responding to the mostly Republican fiscal indiscipline — on which President Trump now plans to double down. If Trump gets what he wants on taxes, look for more feuding with S&P. He was wrong about Boeing, criticizing the company in early December about the price of the next-generation Air Force One airplane. He was wrong about Lockheed Martin — shares rose in the days after he knocked the company over the cost of F-35 fighters on Dec. 22 and closed Thursday up about 1%. (Lockheed said Tuesday that it will not change its prices.) Trump has been wrong about the automobile industry, too. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles shares are up 235% since Trump’s 2012 prediction that the company would move Jeep production to China after that year’s election (wrong about that, too). But score one for Trump with Ford — down 22% since Trump hit the company in 2015 over Mexico, saying “the U.S. is getting killed.” Toyota Motor Corp. shares didn’t move much after Trump’s tweet earlier this month about plans for a Corolla plant in Mexico, and General Motors, thought to be Trump’s favorite car and truck maker, is up 7% since he attacked it, half-accurately, on Jan. 3 over making Chevrolet Cruze hatchbacks south of the border (the more popular Cruze sedans come from Ohio). The reality is that there’s no discernible Trump effect on car stocks, except in the media’s eyes. Finally, Trump was even wrong the bonds of Vattenfall, sponsor of a wind-power project Trump contends ruins views from one of his Scottish golf courses. “Who would be stupid enough to invest?” Trump tweeted in May 2015. Answer: People who like a 15% capital gain. Plus 6.875% interest. Really, none of this should be a yuuuge surprise, given that Trump and his team have been lying about everything from voters to the size of the president’s ... crowds. But what is surprising, and counter to the hype, is the quantitative proof that the market’s Big Blond Wolf is breath-deprived. Lockheed, for one, is apparently reasoning that if a company is solidly built, Trump can blow all he wants. Other companies, take heed.
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Donald Trump Gets Mocked After Showing He Really Doesn’t Know What The Post Office Does

Postby smix » Fri Mar 30, 2018 7:03 pm

Donald Trump Gets Mocked After Showing He Really Doesn’t Know What The Post Office Does
Huffington Post

URL: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/do ... 12dc9b3bc0
Category: Politics
Published: March 30, 2018

Description: The president slammed Amazon for using the USPS as a “Delivery Boy.”
President Donald Trump on Thursday returned to one of his favorite targets, attacking online retail giant Amazon over taxes, its effect on brick-and-mortar stores and one other thing that caused some head-scratching. Trump said Amazon uses “our Postal System as their Delivery Boy.” That has people wondering: Isn’t the United States Postal Service supposed to be in the delivery business? It’s in their mission:
“The Postal Service mission is to provide a reliable, efficient, trusted and affordable universal delivery service that connects people and helps businesses grow.”

The USPS says on its website that it’s “the only delivery service that reaches every address in the nation,” and notes that it delivers 47 percent of the world’s mail. Trump seems to imply that the company’s heavy use of the USPS is, as he tweeted, “causing tremendous loss to the U.S.” While the USPS has for years been losing money, including a $2.7 billion net loss for the 2017 fiscal year, package delivery is one of the few bright spots. “That’s actually the solution right now,” former Postmaster General Jack Potter told The Wall Street Journal. “It’s well justified that they deliver those packages, and they make money on it.” While Trump has attacked Amazon for its use of the USPS before, its contract by law is reviewed and has to be profitable, CBS News notes. That has people wondering what, exactly, is wrong with Amazon using the USPS as a “delivery boy.”
Um, isn't the Postal Service EVERYBODY'S delivery boy?
Is that its entire function? It's very reason for existence?
— Stonekettle (@Stonekettle) March 29, 2018

How dare they use the postal service like a “delivery boy”
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) March 29, 2018

Ha @realDonaldTrump - I too use the Postal System as my “Delivery Boy” - just try and stop me!
— Dave Doherty (@_dave_doherty) March 29, 2018

Imagine using a postal service as "a delivery boy". That's really despica.... wait, hang on...
— Deb Murphy (@FeckinLife) March 30, 2018

"uses postal system as... delivery boy"
Ummmmm.
— Chris (@dampnuts4potus) March 30, 2018

You do realize that we pay for postage, right? The entire concept of the postal system is to act as a “delivery boy.” The US Postal Service is making a small fortune from Americans that shop online. I can’t believe I actually have to explain this.
— Rhonda (@akitadais) March 30, 2018

Being a delivery boy is LITERALLY THE ONLY REASON THE POST OFFICE EXISTS. Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with you?
— Daniel Welch (@DanDanNoodles7) March 30, 2018




Trump Ramps Up Attack On Amazon, Demands Washington Post Register As Lobbyist
Huffington Post

URL: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/tr ... 12dc9cba4d
Category: Politics
Published: March 31, 2018

Description: Trump also referred to the Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, as a lobbyist organization.
Donald Trump tore into Amazon again Saturday on Twitter, accusing the company of running a “post office scam” and insisting that The Washington Post is actually a lobbyist organization. Trump claimed “it is reported” that the U.S. Postal Service loses $1.50 for each package it delivers for Amazon, which pays the same charges as any other company using bulk rate. Trump also targeted the Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, calling the newspaper a lobbyist organization for the company.
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

While it is unclear what reports the president was referring to, a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed may be the source. The article cited a Citigroup analysis, which argued that the Postal Service should collect an additional $1.46 on each package it delivers for companies like Amazon. But USPS executive Joseph Corbett wrote a response to the op-ed — which was written by the co-president of a money-management firm that owns stock in FedEx and competes with the USPS. Corbett slammed it as an “inaccurate and unfair account.” The Postal Regulatory Commission has determined each year, as it must by law, that the service is covering costs for package deliveries, he added. While the USPS has lost money over the last 11 years, climbing demand for package delivery is a boon to the operation, former Postmaster General Jack Potter told The Wall Street Journal. “That’s actually the solution right now,” he said. “It’s well justified that they deliver those packages, and they make money on it.” The USPS is reaping double-digit increases in revenue delivering packages even as first-class and marketing mail revenue plummets, The Associated Press reported. Trump was mocked on Twitter last week when he called the postal service Amazon’s “delivery boy.” Tweets pointed out that delivering mail is exactly what the USPS is supposed to be doing. The Washington Post responded to the president’s tweets in an article Saturday, which said “officials have explained to [Trump] that Amazon’s contracts with the Postal Service are profitable for the agency.” The article also emphasized that the Post “operates independently of Amazon.”



Shep Smith Fact-Checks Trump’s Latest Amazon Claim: ‘None Of That Was True’
Huffington Post

URL: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/sh ... ce2e56c7bc
Category: Politics
Published: April 3, 2018

Description: The president has been firing off a series of attacks on the online retailer.

trump-fox-news.jpg

Fox News’ Shep Smith was quick to pounce on President Donald Trump Tuesday, who followed up his series of tweets criticizing Amazon with a rant about how the online retailer costs the United States Postal Service and American taxpayers “billions of dollars a year.” The president, speaking at the White House Tuesday, seemed to be referring to “last-mile deliveries,” in which Amazon, along with other delivery giants like Fed Ex and UPS, drop packages off at post offices and use local USPS drivers to deliver parcels to the door. But, as Smith pointed out, the postal service, which has faced revenue declines for years with the rise of email and fewer individuals sending first-class mail, says it actually makes money by delivering packages for Amazon and other delivery services. “As for taxpayers,” Smith continued, “the post office’s own website points out, and I quote, ‘The postal service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses.’” Instead, the service “relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.” USPS is described as a partially independent agency, or a quasi-governmental agency, as The Wall Street Journal pointed out. Much of its financial woes over the years have stemmed from changing consumer behavior and a 2006 mandate from Congress that the service prepay benefits for future retired employees, according to NPR. Still, Trump claimed Amazon was responsible for the post office’s financial troubles. He added, “A report just came out. They said $1.47, I believe, or about that for every time they deliver a package, the United States government, meaning the post office, loses $1.47.” Smith fact-checked Trump some more, saying the number the president cited likely came from a Citigroup study released last year that showed the postal service was charging $1.46 below market rates for package delivery. “But our researchers point out, if that discount exists, it’s not just for Amazon ― it’s a bulk rate discount,” he said. Turning to Fox News reporter John Roberts, Smith continued, “There is a great deal of confusion or something here regarding Amazon and the post office because none of that was true.”



Trump’s Retail Website Only Pays Sales Taxes In 2 States. Amazon Pays Taxes In 45.
Huffington Post

URL: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/tr ... 0a11946b1c
Category: Politics
Published: April 7, 2018

Description: Is TrumpStore.com the real “no tax” company?
President Donald Trump has railed against Amazon, falsely claiming the company fails to pay state and local sales taxes on online shipments. But it turns out the Trump Organization retail website collects sales taxes only on goods shipped to two states — while Amazon collects sales taxes in 45 states. The TrumpStore.com website sells Trump-labeled glassware, baseball caps, luggage tags, spa slippers and key chains, among several other items. It collects sales tax only on orders shipped to buyers in Florida and Louisiana, according to the company’s own website, The Wall Street Journal was the first to point out on Friday. TrumpStore.com, which touts itself as the “official retail website of the The Trump Organization,” doesn’t even pay sales taxes on its online shipments in New York, according to the information on its site. Its physical store and headquarters are located in the Trump Tower in Manhattan. Trump, who maintains his ownership of the Trump Organization even while president, has been slamming Amazon on Twitter for dodging sales taxes. He has called it a “no-tax” company and has blasted Amazon for paying “little or no taxes to state & local governments.”
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

According to regulatory filings, Amazon paid a combined total of $412 million in federal, state, local and foreign taxes last year. In 2015, it paid $273 million. Amazon currently charges consumers sales taxes in all 45 states where such taxes exist, plus Washington, D.C. All states except Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon collect sales tax. Amazon doesn’t have to pay all those taxes. A 1992 Supreme Court ruling effectively restricts states from forcing online retailers to pay state and local sales taxes if the company has no physical presence or employees in the state. Amazon reportedly also supports legislation that would require all online retail operations — such as TrumpStore.com — to pay local taxes so companies operate on a level competitive playing field. It’s impossible to know what state and local taxes the TrumpStore has paid because it’s a private company and Trump has not released any tax information. “Trumpstore.com has always, and will continue to collect, report, and remit sales taxes in jurisdictions where it has an obligation to do so,” a spokeswoman told The Wall Street Journal. A “terms and conditions” section of Trump’s online store informs consumers that they’re responsible for paying any applicable tax on merchandise they purchase. TrumpStore.com could soon be forced to catch up to Amazon on state sales taxes, thanks to the president. The Trump administration last month filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court urging it to allow states to require that online retailers collect and pay sales taxes even where they have no physical presence.



How Trump vs. Amazon Explains His Entire Presidency
Huffington Post

URL: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/op ... 0a11936574
Category: Politics
Published: April 7, 2018

Description: Since taking office last year, Donald Trump has carried out sustained attacks on a number of American corporations ― Boeing, Ford and Nordstrom, to name a few. But none have quite endured the president’s focused attention like Amazon. Last week, Trump escalated his war, launching a series of tweets that falsely claimed Amazon receives billions in subsidies from the U.S. Postal Service and avoids paying sales taxes. On Monday, Amazon’s stock plummeted 5 percent, destroying more than $36 billion of the company’s market value and causing the Dow to drop 459 points. Attacking an American corporation as innovative and successful as Amazon seems a strange move for the so-called businessman president. But it’s perfectly in keeping with a presidency driven not by a coherent ideology ― or even a clear economic agenda, for that matter ― but rather by the incoherent ravings of a petty tyrant who is all too willing to jeopardize the nation’s economic strength for his own political gain. Trump’s squabble with Amazon has nothing to do with the e-commerce powerhouse, of course. Instead, it’s all part of the president’s attempt to get at Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO and owner who also owns The Washington Post. Trump is obsessed with that newspaper’s coverage of his presidency. In Trump’s twisted reasoning, a plan to impose higher shipping costs on Amazon, kill the company’s multibillion-dollar contract with the Pentagon and encourage certain state attorneys general to investigate its business practices ― just some of the retributive options Trump is reportedly considering ― is perfectly justifiable if it weakens someone he perceives as a personal enemy. Second-wave feminists in the 1960s may have argued that the personal is political, but it took the Trump presidency to see that those words could be a warning as much as a rallying cry. Certainly, prior presidents have felt free to criticize American industries or the nation’s economic system. But usually they avoided targeting individual companies. Teddy Roosevelt made his mark as the “trustbuster” president, yet he achieved the bulk of his regulatory reforms in cooperation with many large trusts. His distant cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt levied heavy regulations on corporate America, all the while making sure he never spoke ill of individual companies or business executives in public. Other presidents like Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama offered broader critiques of American capitalism that were rooted in their larger political beliefs about how the economy should operate most fairly for all Americans. The one time President Obama did single out a specific company, he quickly learned his lesson. After he called out Staples for supposedly reducing its employees’ hours so that the office superstore could avoid health care costs associated with Obamacare, Staples responded that the “president appears not to have all the facts.” Obama never fingered Staples again. Facts don’t matter for Trump, however. Despite ― or perhaps even because ― advisers have repeatedly told him that shipping packages for Amazon is a financial boon for the Postal Service, Trump has continued to make his false claims about the company. Corporations often have to push back against misrepresentations of their business practices ― that’s why they have large public relations offices, after all ― but an ongoing misinformation campaign led by the president of the United States is a chilling prospect for the future of all American business. Trump’s beef with Amazon and the other individual companies he has attacked departs from the historical examples and has no basis in political philosophy, whatever that might be for him. Instead, like everything the president does, it is fueled by his sense of personal grievance and vindictiveness, by his unending desire to use the power of the presidency not to advance the nation’s interests but to assuage his own fragile ego. It also marks a departure from yet another supposed orthodoxy of the Republican Party ― in this case, the GOP’s longstanding devotion to free-market absolutism. Had any prior president made just one of these attacks on an American business, he would have faced non-stop wrath from congressional Republicans and Fox News pundits alike. Yet those voices have remained remarkably silent as Trump has carried out his assault. The president has been able to get away with it all because, just like his attacks on American democracy, the named targets are individual and personal, thus obscuring the actual systemic damage his abuse is wreaking. Republicans can rationalize Trump’s war on Amazon as merely a justifiable counterpunch against a liberal media outlet rather than acknowledging it for what it is: an outrageous intervention in the market. Trump’s campaign against Amazon isn’t a harmless political flap, as his supporters would like to believe. It’s a full-fledged strike against the capitalist system they supposedly revere. If Republicans truly believe in the invisible hand of the market, they should do something about the tiny orange hands that are trying to strangle some of its most vibrant actors.
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Re: Donald Trump Gets Mocked After Showing He Really Doesn’t Know What The Post Office Does

Postby samurai » Fri Mar 30, 2018 11:06 pm

delivery-boy-adventure.jpg

Some other saucy responses regarding Amazon and USPS collected from this Twitter thread posted under https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/sta ... 5272065024

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


You are once again using your Presidential influence to manipulate stock prices. Your ego loves to know that your tiny Tweeting hands have that power. Hope #Mueller is paying attention to these brazenly unethical abuses of power. Especially considering your conflicts of interest.
— Jessica Collins (@JHCollins7) March 29, 2018

The Office of the Presidency and the American people deserve a President that is above petty vendettas. ATT/Time Warner Lawsuit and now you pick up your attack on Jeff Bezos and Amazon because he owns the Washington Post. Your attempts to distract are obvious.
— Stan Milan (@StanMilan) March 29, 2018

Not trying to be obtuse here, but isn't delivering packages the post office's job? Can anyone explain to me why giving the post office more work is a bad thing? Don't most businesses want more clients / revenue?
— Nick Joannidi (@joannidi) March 29, 2018

What exactly do you think USPS is for?
— Alan Hodge (@AlanFromMars) March 29, 2018

Wow the poastal service delivers that's just amazing. LOL
— jimcar (@carjimklas) March 29, 2018

WTF?
— staci keyes (@stackeyes) March 29, 2018

Wait a minute. Using our postal system as it was intended causes “tremendous loss to the US?” How so Donald? And in Amazon’s defense, they don’t slather “BEZOS” across everything that bears their brand. Unlike some egotistical assholes who insist on their name being the product.
— Bruce Lindner (@LukaBrazzi) March 29, 2018

Hey douchebag, isn't that what the post office is supposed to do by the way? Aren't they in the business of "delivering"?
— Stephanie Marks (@slyok) March 30, 2018

OMG doesn’t he know that the job of the post office is to deliver things? He is dumber than I thought!!
— Chuck Schmitt (@ChuckSchmitt226) March 30, 2018

Uhhhhh. The Postal System is everyone’s Delivery Boy... That’s kind of the point of their existence....
— Matt Owen (@EclecticTuba) March 30, 2018

Actually, Donny Two Scoops, I’m grateful to Amazon for making Sunday parcel delivery profitable for USPS. Just about everything in your Tweet is completely or mostly a lie, BTW. And you’re still a jamoke. @JeffBezos
— Jeffrey K. Walker (@JkwalkerAuthor) March 30, 2018

Um...don’t we all use the Postal System as our delivery boy?
— Alfred Green (@alfred_green) March 30, 2018

That’s unbelievable President Trump! Thank you for bringing to our attention a company using another company for the exact reason the other company is in business for. Please let me know when they start abusing Twitter for their message machine.
— Eric Bylenok (@Kev_Emo) March 30, 2018

Amazon should be forced to create their own Delivery System; how dare they use our Nation's USPS to serve their needs and save Americans money? How dare they increase profits at the Postal Service, that's so unAmerican!
— Korian R. Noto (@r_korian) March 30, 2018

Next time you're on the shitter while eating 2 big macs and watching three TVs (breitbart, NRA, and Fox News), maybe use your tiny thumbs to look up what the post office actually does and figure out that Amazon actually pays USPS for their shipping. You are so stupid. Come On!
— James Johnston (@jamesjchicago) March 30, 2018

Says the mail order steak salesman...
— Jeremy Boyd (@JeremyB36496024) March 30, 2018

Trump is clearly orange with envy of Bezos.
— Frank Petrone (@frankpetrone) March 30, 2018

I love Amazon!!!
Incrediblegifts.jpg

— James Brooks Bolton (@BoltonBrooks) March 30, 2018

You do realize that you are railing against capitalism right now, correct? Well, probably not...you're a moron.
— Rob (@robesquire) March 29, 2018

Yeah, capitalism sucks eh?
— Cory Byrom (@cdbyrom) March 29, 2018

Too bad. I think you might really enjoy Amazon Alexa. "Alexa, tell me again who won the 2016 election"
— Marc Abramowitz (@MSAbramo) March 30, 2018
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