Trump pokes Amazon with another Postal Service tweet

The president of the US has been targeting Jeff Bezos' company for the better part of a week now.

Ben Fox Rubin
Ben Fox Rubin Former senior reporter
Ben Fox Rubin was a senior reporter for CNET News in Manhattan, reporting on Amazon, e-commerce and mobile payments. He previously worked as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and got his start at newspapers in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
3 min read
US President Donald Trump at his desk in the Oval Office.

Amazon has been a frequent target of Trump since before the 2016 election.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Another morning, another tweet from President Donald Trump about Amazon .

For the fourth time in six days, the president on Tuesday fired off a tweet against one of his favorite targets, again saying that Amazon is taking advantage of its delivery partnership with the US Postal Service, with taxpayers shouldering the costs. He reiterated his arguments later Tuesday in comments to the press, saying, "Amazon is going to have to pay much more money to the Post Office. There's no doubt about that."

Bloomberg reported Tuesday, citing five anonymous sources, that there are no active discussions in the White House to take action against Amazon. That report comes a few days after White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the same thing publicly. Any action against the company would likely be seen as retaliation by Trump against Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who owns The Washington Post. The publication has written critically about the president.

In his series of tweets, Trump is highlighting an issue that two sides see differently. Some perceive Amazon as a big benefit for the Postal Service, bringing it more business at a time that letter deliveries are slumping. Others argue that the Postal Service isn't charging Amazon and other shippers the full amount it should for parcel deliveries.

The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act in 2006 made it illegal for the Postal Service to ship parcels at below cost. Additionally, Postal Service corporate partnerships are reviewed annually by the Postal Regulatory Commission, an oversight agency. 

Despite those protections against below-market rates, a widely circulated Citigroup analysis from last year claimed that the Postal Service wasn't considering billions of dollars in benefits payments in its accounting. Citigroup argued that the Postal Service needed to raise its prices or else taxpayers will have to cover the additional costs. 

The fact-checking publication PolitiFact on Monday called Trump's claims false, saying Amazon is contributing to a growth area -- package deliveries -- for the Postal Service. 

"It's possible that the Postal Service could be charging Amazon more for package delivery and therefore get a better deal," PolitiFact wrote. "That still doesn't mean USPS is losing a fortune."

If the Postal Service were to raise prices, it's likely other shippers will pay more, along with Amazon. Plus, customers may also face higher retail prices as costs are passed down to them. However, the financial firm Piper Jaffray said Tuesday the Postal Service was unlikely to "materially raise rates" for Amazon deliveries, since the company would likely switch to alternatives like UPS, FedEx or its growing in-house service.

Amazon, which has remained mum amid the recent round of Trump tweets, declined to comment for this story. Its were up about 3 percent Tuesday afternoon, after dropping about 5 percent Monday.

First published at 7:59 a.m. PT.
Update, at 10:30 a.m.: Adds Trump's additional comments to press and PolitiFact's reporting.

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