Donald Trump’s tough talk will always be part of how he handles himself. His supporters love it; those who don’t love it — from across the political spectrum — cringe often. But Trump has been effective as president because of this style, and that’s really not a matter up for dispute.
However, Trump’s threats to advance an internet tax — a jab that he focuses at Amazon — is a bad move.
That the president is focused on Amazon may not mean much to many people, but Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is also the owner of the Washington Post, a publication that is critical of the president’s administration.
Well, that’s fine. Newspapers should be critical of the administration. Any administration. And Trump is just as correct to throw it back at the press when he thinks they deserve it. They certainly failed to be watchdogs of the Obama administration, and his critiques are often fair.
However, Trump targeting one business that happens to be tied to the Washington Post reads like political payback. It’s not good politics.
Don’t get me wrong, there are legitimate criticisms Trump can make about Amazon. The sweetheart deal they have with the U.S. Postal Service — which has led to the American taxpayers subsidizing Amazon’s shipping fees — should be a topic for discussion. Picking winners and losers in the private sector is a Democrat’s vice.
But Trump’s talk of an internet tax is wrongheaded — especially if you want to target Amazon.
Implementing an internet tax, something akin to a sales tax, will be a blow to all online retailers, but Amazon is big enough to weather it. They’d welcome it, in fact.
It’s the smaller online retailers that will suffer. They won’t be able to compete with the additional costs of doing business, making partnering with Amazon look all the more appealing. The online giant will gain an even bigger market share.
Remember when the Democrats tried to destroy the tobacco industry? They actually ended up destroying the smaller tobacco firms, which were then gobbled up by the few giants.
Targeting Amazon because of a dispute with the Washington Post — yes, this is speculation — isn’t the way the leader of the free world is supposed to act. Not by a long shot. But instituting the kind of punitive tax policy that would raise barriers to success for small business and limit competition is not what Trump supporters were hoping to see.
The real target here should be the U.S. Postal Service, which has been a taxpayer drain for decades.