During an appearance on CNN’s New Day Thursday, former United States Treasury Secretary Larry Summers weighed in on President Trump’s recent tweets attacking Amazon and Jeff Bezos. Summers painted the President’s tweets as “going on jihads with the power of the Federal government against companies whose CEO’s private activity he doesn’t find congenial,” in addition to comparing the President to Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.
Amazon has found itself the target of many of President Trump’s tweets recently. In one tweet, the President talked about how Amazon is “costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy.” In other tweets, he blamed the online retail giant for “putting many thousands of retailers out of business” and accused the “Fake Washington Post” of acting as a lobbyist on behalf of Amazon. Many believe that President Trump’s animus against Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, an outspoken liberal who also owns The Washington Post, played a role in his decision to unleash the anti-Amazon tweets.
Summers did not approve of President Trump’s rhetoric against Amazon, saying “that’s the stuff of much more totalitarian countries.” Despite his harsh rhetoric, Summers did not seem all that worried about creeping fascism: “Now, we’ve got all kinds of safeguards here and I don’t think we’re going to become a fascist country.” While he didn’t seem too worried about the end of American democracy, he could not resist comparing the President to a dictator, referring to Trump’s behavior as “a Mussolini tactic, not an American tactic.”
Liberals can hardly claim the moral high ground against President Trump for using the power of the government to go against companies “whose CEO’s private activity” they don’t find congenial. During his tenure in office, President Obama went after the coal companies, promising that “electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket” as a result of his cap-and-trade policy that would “bankrupt” the coal industry.
President Obama’s chosen successor Hillary Clinton promised to continue the war on coal during a Democratic Primary debate: “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” While the tree huggers in Silicon Valley cheered, the coal miners obviously did not like that idea very much. Clinton lost West Virginia, the epicenter of coal country, by a whopping 42 points in the 2016 Presidential Election.
Local governments have also gone after companies because they don’t like the political views of the CEO. Chicago City Alderman Joe Moreno and Mayor Rahm Emanuel did not want Chick-fil-a to open up a branch in their city because they did not approve of CEO Dan Cathy’s opposition to same-sex marriage.
Elected officials in Boston and Philadelphia also encouraged the fast food company not to open up branches in their cities. Yet, it would come as quite a surprise if Summers would compare these liberal politicians to Mussolini for going "on an attack against a particular company motivated by a private holding of its CEO."
Liberals should rest easy that President Trump has no plans to put Amazon out of business. But don't expect the media and the left to dial back the hysteria over the President's "war" on Amazon anytime soon.
A transcript is below. Click "expand" to read more:
CNN New Day
ALISYN CAMEROTA: You just brought up Amazon and I do want to get your take on what the President is doing with Amazon and Jeff Bezos since the President has been tweeting about Jeff Bezos, who of course owns The Washington Post, who believe, the President thinks has perhaps done unflattering coverage of him. Their stock is down 7 percent. What do you think about a President picking winners and losers, going after particular companies?
LARRY SUMMERS: Picking winners and losers is problematic. Going on jihads with the power of the Federal government against companies whose CEO’s private activity he doesn’t find congenial, that’s not the stuff of democracy. That’s the stuff of much more totalitarian countries. Now, we’ve got all kinds of safeguards here and I don’t think we’re going to become a fascist country but make no mistake, that’s a Mussolini tactic, not an American tactic. And it’s one that’s potentially quite dangerous for our business confidence. And the point is, are there issues about predatory pricing or whatever that appropriate experts should be monitoring with respect to Amazon? Of course. But for the President of the United States to go on an attack against a particular company motivated by a private holding of its CEO, that is not the American way and that is something that should make Americans, and frankly, it should make pro-business Republicans, who see most strongly the benefits of American corporations, it should make them most nervous. It’s a kind of thing that if a liberal, progressive Democrat did, they would be berserk about how dangerous it was for the economy. This is something that’s very problematic.