Trump is determined to take down Amazon — and it could be terrible news for HQ2
Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO and founder. Drew Angerer / Getty Images
President Donald Trump is “obsessed” with Amazon — and with taking it down— the news website Axios reported.
Amazon has recently faced criticism on topics including gun regulation in the US, employees’ working conditions, and its search for its second headquarters, dubbed HQ2.
It’s a reminder that not everyone living in HQ2 candidate cites will welcome the company with open arms.
President Donald Trump is apparently doubling down on his mission to take down Amazon.
Trump is “obsessed” with the e-commerce giant, a source told the news website Axios. He’s said to believe Amazon has unfairly received prime tax benefits and preferential treatment from the US Postal Service, hurting brick-and-mortar retailers.
And the president hasn’t been quiet about his negative feelings about Amazon.
In December, Trump tweeted that the US Postal Service was undercharging Amazon, and that it was making the “Post Office dumber and poorer.” In August, he tweeted that the company was “doing great damage to tax paying retailers.”
Trump has also repeatedly attacked The Washington Post, owned by Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos. The president claims that the publication, which he once called the “#AmazonWashingtonPost,” peddles “fake news” and serves as a “tax shelter” for Amazon.
Distrust of Amazon is growing
Amazon’s Seattle headquarters. David Ryder / Stringer / Getty Images
Trump isn’t the only American growing suspicious of Amazon.
Grab Your Wallet, a social media campaign to boycott retailers that sell Trump-related merchandise, has been encouraging people to boycott Amazon until it stops selling such products and running ads on the far-right website Breitbart News.
The group recently redoubled its efforts after Amazon refused to cut the National Rifle Association’s TV show from its streaming service in response to calls from gun-control advocates in the wake of the shooting last month in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead.
While some have applauded Amazon’s impressive benefits, the company has been criticized following reports of poor working conditions and long hours for employees in its warehouses. Some white-collar Amazon employees have described a brutal work environment where people cry at their desks after being pushed to their breaking point.
Meanwhile, Amazon’s search for a second headquarters, dubbed HQ2, has helped shine a light on its lobbying efforts and its impact on cities — and not everything that is coming into focus is pretty.
Amazon’s explosive growth has transformed Seattle, the location of its first headquarters. The e-commerce company says its Seattle headquarters has created 53,000 jobs in the city and pumped a staggering $38 billion into the local economy.
Still, many residents say the changes haven’t all been for the best.
Skyrocketing housing prices, unrelenting traffic, and overcrowding are leading to what some residents call “Amageddon.” Local businesses have been forced out as prices increase and Amazon’s headquarters expands into “Amazonia.”
“There are a lot of people in Seattle who are at the losing end of the prosperity that Amazon brings,” Knute Berger, a journalist, historian, and Seattle native, told Business Insider. “There has been a lot of displacement. Minority communities have largely been driven out of the city for less expensive suburbs, and competition for homes and rents has dramatically increased, contributing to the rising homeless population.”
Americans may side with Trump against Amazon
President Donald Trump.Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
Amid these reports, some residents of HQ2 candidate cities are most likely becoming concerned about less-than-positive outcomes of Amazon opening up shop.
Rents are expected to increase, which could drive out longtime residents in favor of new Amazon employees. Traffic is likely to get worse. And experts warn that hosting HQ2 may not provide the payoff that local businesses need.
Amazon’s methods of picking its next headquarters are also raising some eyebrows.
Cities across North America are pledging millions of dollars toward things like bullet trains and tax breaks if Amazon picks it as the site for HQ2. For example, as of November, Philadelphia had spent $245,000 on its HQ2 campaign, Philadelphia Weekly reported.
The company has explicitly said financial incentives will be one of the biggest factors it considers in deciding where HQ2 should go.
Offering enormous tax breaks to one of the most successful companies in the world rubs some people the wrong way. A petition started by a group of elite economists argues that cities should band together against such incentives because they “divert funds that could be put to better use underwriting public services such as schools, housing programs, job training, and transportation.”
Yet, a recent MSN poll found that 67% of respondents would want Amazon to build a campus in their city. Amazon says that HQ2 will bring 50,000 new jobs and that it will invest $5 billion in the construction of its new headquarters — so city and state governments are likely to see spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to attract the company as justifiable.
But it all adds up to spending taxpayers’ money on trying to win over Amazon.
Amazon is not a brand beloved by all, with critics ranging from economists to small-business owners to the president of the United States. As local governments vie for HQ2, they’d be wise to remember that not everyone wants their tax dollars spent on buttering up Amazon.