President Trump’s Interest in Regulating Amazon, More Than Politics?

  • Date Published
  • Categories Editorial, News
  • Reading Time 5-Minute Read

Late last March President Trump announced that he would like to control Amazon to protect mom-and-pop retailers. However, this was not entirely true.

It was announced late last March that President Trump would like to control the size and scale of Amazon and their dealings through the utilization of antitrust laws. Axios’ source states that Trump “has talked about changing Amazon’s tax treatment because he’s worried about mom-and-pop retailers being put out of business.”

However, this statement does not seem to speak the whole truth of the matter, as Trump’s entrepreneurial past is directly intertwined with the Real Estate market, and a fair assumption is that his personal acquaintances and friends are still in this industry. Further adding fuel to this belief is his alleged lack of detachment from his personal businesses. He is not directly connected to his past Real Estate empire, but he still maintains the position in the Trump Organization as “Executive Vice President of Development & Acquisitions.”

Jared Kushner, son-in-law and advisor to the president, Donald Trump, recently had his own troubles involving the Kushner Company/Kushner Properties. Despite the assumption that all of the president’s business dealings and those of his associates would be turned to gold with the presidential “Midas touch,” this did not end up being the reality of the situation. The Kushner Company’s purchase of the New York Times building on West 44th Street in Manhattan has not yielded the returns they had wished for, and the remodeling/development process has been halted numerous times. It seems that being involved in politics does not always bring good fortune for business interests one may hold.

Still, the president is set on weakening Amazon’s control of the retail market (internet retail, in this case), and speculation points to situations such as the Kushner Company’s or the Trump Organization’s current issues regarding in-development malls, and the brick and mortar space in general. Even the news of Trump’s goal to curtail Amazon’s business has caused a dramatic reaction on the market, as “Amazon[‘s] shares fell almost 5 per cent on Wednesday [28 March 2018], wiping more than $30bn (£21.4bn) off its market value.”

With the rise of e-commerce and internet retailing came the decline of brick-and-mortar stores. This, of course, has caused a negative reaction from smaller retailers, as their bargaining power is severely limited compared to the that of Amazon. Additionally, Trump, for some reason, believes the amount of mail coming through the USPS is putting a burden on the United States Postal Service, and system, due to the large quantity of packages being processed from Amazon. However, this is not the case.

Axios’ source inside the Trump presidency stated that “The whole post office thing, that’s very much a perception he has.” Additionally, another source said 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.” Analysis from Axios’ Ina Fried explains that “The Postal Service actually added delivery on Sunday in some cities because Amazon made it worthwhile.”

So, the reasoning behind Trump’s fear of Amazon is clearly not what he says it is, publicly. Being the president, he seems to want to avoid any talk of his organization’s or the Kushner Company’s business interactions, yet this is a very real issue that undermines the legitimacy of his actions. Are they for the American people as a whole, or just for his own and his circle’s benefit? Unfortunately, it seems his actions are dictated more so by the latter.

The New York Times reported that Kushner Companies and the Trump Organization have signed a letter of intent to have the Trump Organization manage at least one of the hotels in Kushner Companies’ Long Branch, New Jersey, development. The problem isn’t that the companies are doing business together, it is “That development is poised to potentially benefit from tens of millions of dollars in local and federal government investment,” Vox stated. It has always been a tradition for presidents to divest their assets before taking presidency, but the act is not set in law, and is nothing more than a habit. Real issues arise when an entrepreneur with presidential authority is able to directly subsidize an investment they have made with federal funds. In other words, taxes paid by citizens is funneled back into the wallet of the entrepreneur.

We have experienced major issues in politics since legal entities were granted direct lobbying authorities, and the president having so many business interests is concerning. It is concerning not because he has these interests and assets, but because he does not have a formal political background, and he does not act like a traditional president. He seems to be influenced too heavily by his own interests, and feelings, which increases the potential for a major conflict of interests.

The question must be asked, whenever Trump does something or says something as the president regarding business, if it is really in the best interest of the American people, or is it just in his own self interest? Is this President Donald Trump speaking, or just Trump from reality TV speaking?