Trump Gives U.S. Business the Ukraine Treatment - 3 minutes read

Trump Gives U.S. Business the Ukraine Treatment - The New York Times

And tariff policy isn’t the only area in which the administration seems to be using its power to punish corporations if they don’t show proper political fealty.

Recently the Pentagon granted the huge Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract for cloud computing (yes, JEDI) to Microsoft, shocking observers who expected it to go to Amazon. Amazon is challenging the decision, claiming that it was punishment for critical reporting in The Washington Post, now owned by Jeff Bezos — a claim that is entirely plausible, given Trump’s own repeated declarations that he was going to give Bezos “problems.”

Trump officials claim, of course, that the decision process was squeaky-clean, based on expert judgment untainted by any political influence. But seriously, is anything clean in this administration? Are we really supposed to accept on faith that people who are willing to politicize weather forecasts were totally hands-off when it came to awarding a huge, lucrative contract to a company Trump considers an enemy?

When I and others point out the ways in which Trump is using crony capitalism to lock in political advantage, we tend to get two kinds of pushback. First, we’re told that we shouldn’t feel sympathy for wealthy corporations. Second, we’re told that progressive Democrats also criticize some corporations, like Facebook, and have proposed a crackdown on some kinds of corporate behavior. So what’s the difference?

Well, these critiques (willfully, one suspects) miss the point. What progressives are proposing are rules for corporate behavior that would apply equally to all companies, not be imposed selectively on corporations depending on their political orientation.

And the trouble with Trump’s selective doling out of punishment isn’t the harm it inflicts on corporations, it’s the incentives this regime creates for political sycophancy. American voters and American democracy, not Apple and Amazon — which are, as it happens, notorious examples of tax avoidance — are the victims we care about.

Put it this way: By using his political power to punish businesses that don’t support him while rewarding those that do, Trump is taking us along the same path already followed by countries like Hungary, which remains a democracy on paper but has become a one-party authoritarian state in practice. And we’re already much further down that road than many people realize.

Source: The New York Times

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Donald TrumpUkraineThe New York TimesTariffPower (social and political)PoliticsFealtyUnited States Department of DefenseCommon purposeContractCloud computingJediismMicrosoftAmazon.comAmazon.comThe Washington PostJeff BezosDecision-makingExpertJudgementPoliticsSocial influence...But SeriouslyClean technologyBusiness administrationPersonCrony capitalismWilliam J. JeffersonFacebookProgressivismNorm (social)CorporationCorporationCorporationPoliticsSycophancyDemocracyApple Inc.Amazon.comTax avoidancePower (social and political)NationHungarian People's RepublicDemocracyOne-party stateAuthoritarianismState (polity)Person