President Donald Trump is doubling down on what some have described as an obsession with Amazon.com, attacking the company for the second time in three days with a pair of Twitter messages that call on the company to “pay real costs (and taxes) now!” On Saturday he took that attack further by falsely claiming that the Washington Post is part of Amazon’s lobbying team. Without citing the source of his claim, the president said the U.S. Postal Service “will lose $1.50 on average for each package it delivers for Amazon.”
In the tweets that Trump apparently sent during a drive from his Mar-a-Lago estate to the nearby Trump International Golf Club, the president said Amazon is responsible for “Billions of Dollars” in losses for the Postal Service. “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,” Trump added.
It just so happens that Trump’s attacks on the Post come on the same day as the top story on the paper’s website has to do with how the secrecy around the president’s finances is being threatened by, among others, the claims from porn star Stormy Daniels and the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller. His Saturday tweets “made clear that his attacks on the retailer were inspired by his disdain for the newspaper’s coverage,” noted the Washington Post. Even though the Post is owned by Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, it “operates independently” from the internet commerce giant, the paper pointed out in its story about the Saturday tweets. This isn’t new for the president though as he has regularly talked about Amazon and the Post as the same company even though they’re two separate entities.
These are hardly the only misleading claims in Trump’s Saturday tweets. First of all, many have already pointed out that Amazon isn’t actually ripping off the Post Office. “The conventional wisdom is that Amazon has actually been a rare boon for the financially battered Postal Service,” wrote Slate’s Jordan Weissmann. Even Trump allies have reportedly tried to explain to the president why his views are misguided, but he’s having none of it. “The whole post office thing, that’s very much a perception he has,” a source told Axios earlier this week. “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.”
Although some analysis have claimed that the Postal Service undercharges Amazon, they reach that number “by re-allocating the Post Office’s benefits costs—not the costs specific to package delivery,” notes CBS News, which points out that package delivery is one of the few lines of business that is actually growing. Plus there’s the pesky detail that it would technically be against the law for the Postal Service to lose money on delivering packages. CBS News explains:
The 2006 law also mandated that each line of business within the postal service cover its attributable costs. In other words, for the postal service to lose money on package delivery would be against the law.
In an earlier explainer, the New York Times also noted that Trump’s complaints about Amazon’s failure to pay taxes are outdated. “Since April 2017, Amazon has collected sales taxes in all states that levy one,” noted the paper. The internet commerce giant lost $53 billion in market value when Axios reported a source saying that Trump is “obsessed with Amazon.” But the company’s share price recovered after the White House said there were no actions planned against Amazon “at this time”