Trump just got caught in flagrant abuse of power to punish Amazon’s Jeff Bezos

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Pursuing his personal vendetta against Jeff Bezos, owner of both Amazon and The Washington Post, President Trump has been pushing the Postmaster General to double the rates it charges the big online retailer to deliver packages,

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Not letting facts or experts get in the way of his anger, the president has repeatedly claimed that the Post Office loses money on each Amazon package it delivers, which subsidizes the retailer causing the failure of brick and mortar competitors.

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Trump has been attacking Amazon for the past three years, usually after an article appears in the Washington Post about him that he doesn’t like. 

Trump has personally met with U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan to push his views multiple times, although few if any of the meetings are ever listed on the president’s public agenda that lists all of his meetings. 

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Brennan, who worked her way up from mail carrier to head the Post Office, has stood up to Trump so far, telling him that the Amazon business is covered by contracts that are reviewed by an independent regulatory commission. 

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She has also explained she can’t act alone on his request even if she wanted to because the Post Office is controlled by a board of nine governors and all contracts like the one with Amazon must be approved by the independent Postal Regulatory Commission.

Brennan has told Trump that the Amazon business helps the post office at a time first class mail delivery continues to decline.

She even provided Trump a set of slides showing the value to the post office of a number of companies, including Amazon, that are partners for deliveries.

Facts don’t phase Trump who has continued his criticism and even accused the Post Office of not knowing or understanding the cost of its relationship with Amazon.

His anger culminated last month in an Executive Order calling for a government review of the Post Office, which operates as an independent company but has taken over $15 billion from the government in recent years to cover ongoing losses. The report is due in July.

The losses are not from the package delivery but are a direct result of health care costs under the pension plan for postal workers past and present, for which the post office must put aside millions each year to prepare for the eventual costs.

Even within the White House, Trump’s aides have expressed differing opinions, with some following the bosses lead and claiming the post office loses money on Amazon while others say without the Amazon business, the post office would be much worse off. 

Amazon and the Post Office won’t reveal details, but outside experts say that Amazon spent about $21.7 billion on shipping costs in 2017, and about 40 percent of its packages were sent at least partially through the U.S.P.O., usually for the “last mile” of delivery.

That means Amazon delivers the packages to the nearest post office which then carries it to the home of the consumer.

The Post Office competes for package delivery services with FedEx, United Parcel, and others, and is typically the lowest-cost provider.

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The Post Office reported package income of $19.5 billion last year, up 118 percent from 2016.

The fact is the world is changing as brick and mortar businesses have been displaced in music, movies and other retail by online services, especially Amazon, which is now one of the largest corporations in the world.

Trump is striking out against Amazon because he hates the Washington Post coverage of him and his administration, and because he believes he should be able to order the independent post office to do what he wants, just like he wanted the FBI to bend to his will under James Comey.

The post office has problems because of the changing business models and economics but what Trump is doing is not going to solve the real problems but could make things worse.

Benjamin Locke

Benjamin Locke is a retired college professor with an undergraduate degree in Industrial Labor and Relations from Cornell University and an MBA from the European School of Management.

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