President Donald Trump asked Morgan Brennan, the postmaster general of the United States Postal Service, to double the shipping costs of Amazon, reports The Washington Post, a newspaper owned by the internet retail giant’s founder, Jeff Bezos. The move is a continuation of Trump’s vendetta against Bezos, possibly due to the fact that his news outlet is often critical of the president’s policies.
When Trump asked Brennan to make the changes in the postal service’s shipping policy, she told him that the retailer’s relationship with USPS was beneficial to the government service and that other retailers had a similar relationship with USPS. In addition, even if Brennan felt compelled to comply with Trump’s demands, the change in policy would have to go through a regulatory committee.
Last month, Trump accused Amazon of taking advantage of American taxpayers, as well as implying that he felt the leadership at USPS was ineffective or corrupt.
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
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
Complicating matters are White House aides that are unpersuaded that Amazon is actually costing the U.S. government money. Some of the aides reportedly said that USPS would have shut down without Amazon and other internet retailers. Sources in the administration, who remain anonymous because they aren’t allowed to discuss internal meetings with media outlets, say Trump’s ire toward Amazon was due to the paper publishing unflattering articles about the president.
Former economic adviser Gary Cohn was reportedly among those in Trump’s cabinet that disagreed with his assessment that Amazon was detrimental to the USPS.
About 40 percent of the retailer’s items are shipped through USPS, and Amazon says they spent over $20 billion on shipping in 2017. During the same year, USPS reported its income generated from shipping costs at over $19 billion.
Earlier this year, a spokesman for the postal service wrote an op-ed for The Hill that defended USPS’s lower shipping rates compared to companies like FedEx.
“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,” David Partenheminer 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.”
Twitter was not happy:
This is a scandalous attack on freedom of the press. Big outrage! Trump is attacking Jeff Bezos because he doesn’t like the Washington Post. https://t.co/phcvJDJxYi
— Max Boot (@MaxBoot) May 18, 2018
President of the United States tries to get his government to retaliate against a business as payback for media coverage he doesn't like https://t.co/P1rJFrpwTE
— Nick Riccardi (@NickRiccardi) May 18, 2018
American oligarch with significant publishing interests targeted in regime crackdown https://t.co/4bKK4jfF1g
— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) May 18, 2018