Amazon’s Jeff Bezos versus President Donald J. Trump

One of the big questions in Washington is who wins a battle between the richest man in the world and the most powerful man in the world? It seems almost like a story out of Marvel Comics. The war between the $150-billion-dollar man, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, and President Donald J. Trump is playing out in Washington, D.C. in a proxy fight related to government contracting.

One would think that President Donald J. Trump could win a battle between Amazon’s quest to take over all the cloud computing needs of the federal government versus Trump’s control over the federal government. Trump’s disdain for Amazon, and Bezos, is well documented. On April 7, 2018, the Guardian reported “Trump has been raging against his new favorite target, Amazon – accusing the company of putting ‘fully tax paying retailers’ out of business, and using the USPS as its ‘Delivery Boy’ at the expense of American taxpayers.” Trump has put a focus on the fact that Amazon has driven many companies out of business by using the US Postal Service as a subsidy and by avoiding state and local taxes. This gaming of the system has helped put the company in a position to expand into the lucrative government contracting business and to drive smaller local brick and mortar competitors out of business.

Jeff Bezos has positioned himself for massive government contracts in a few different ways. First was to buy up the Washington Post, giving him immediate credibility as a Washington power player. Second was to hire an army of lobbyist to peddle his version of crony capitalism, the Wall Street Journal reported on June 20, 2018 of Bezos becoming one of Washington’s premier power players. According to the Wall Street Journal, “last year, Amazon pushed a provision to allow federal employees to buy a broad array of goods online, from cleaning supplies to bottled water, instead of through usual bureaucratic channels. An early draft in Congress drew opposition from competitors such as Home Depot and Grainger because it stated the contract could be made without competitive bidding to ‘one or more’ online retailers ‘used widely in the private sector.’ Competitors dubbed it the ‘Amazon amendment’ and went to war.” This was a provision that would have granted a monopoly to Amazon for billions in sales and is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Amazon’s effort to consolidate all government contracting for IP.

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Bezos’ political connections and his plans for invading Washington, D.C. with a corporate headquarters, a $23 million personal estate and his plans to use the federal government for an unprecedented scope of crony capitalism are evidence of his plans to corner the market in government contracting. His current plans include sucking up all the cloud computing of the Department of Defense and, presumably, a future contract for all the data storage for all of the federal government. The Defense contract is on a temporary hold, but Amazon seems the clear favorite because they already have a share in a contract with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and they are partnered with a firm that has already started to set up the cloud to hold Defense Department data. Although the Defense contract will be worth about 10 billion over the next ten years, this sets the table for Amazon to completely take over all the data storage for all federal activities – making it a de facto government agency – yet privatized.

This is dangerous, and unprecedented, for one company to position themselves to control all the data of the federal government. That company will never be able to be separated from the federal government because the data will be held by Amazon. It would be impossible to fire the company or to transition to other companies, because the data would be held by Amazon. It makes sense to move all of your management offices to be close to Washington, D.C. if your plans included a complete takeover of all federal data management. And it would make the company indispensable for the federal government. President Trump needs to stop this plot to take over the government before Amazon completes the plan.

Will President Donald J. Trump allow Amazon to take over the federal government? Bezos is a committed liberal who is part of the Never-Trump movement (with the exception of his activities to get government contracts)? Will a president who has promised to “drain the swamp” and is the most politically powerful man on the planet allow liberal Bezos to game the government contracting system? Will President Trump allow Bezos to take over Washington and become the ruler of Washington by virtue of his control of government data? Trump is a scrappy and tough president and may be the only person who can beat back Bezos’ Amazon army of lobbyists and employees moving to the Swamp.

In a battle between crony capitalist Jeff Bezos and President Donald J. Trump – my money is on President Donald J. Trump. If Bezos is allowed to take control of all federal data through the management of cloud computing, he will become the master of the world and the most powerful man ever to walk the planet. And that should scare most Americans.

 

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