A quid pro quo for U.S. business
The New York Times
President Trump is treating U.S. businesses much as he did Ukraine, said Paul Krugman, using threats to extract demonstrations of fealty. Companies that play along get an “implicit quid pro quo”: exemptions from policies that would hurt their bottom lines. “Consider, for example, what happened last week, when Trump toured an Apple manufacturing plant together with Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO.” Trump used the occasion to lie about his political rivals and boast, incorrectly, that the plant had been opened under his watch. “Cook, far from correcting these falsehoods, expressed support.” Why? Apple is seeking exemptions from Trump’s China tariffs, since that’s where it assembles many of its products. The administration is using its power to coerce corporations in other ways as well. Amazon is contesting the Pentagon’s decision to grant Microsoft its $10 billion cloud-computing contract. That snub looks like payback for “critical reporting” in the Jeff Bezos–owned Washington Post, from a president who has repeatedly promised “to give Bezos ‘problems.’” The trouble with Trump penalizing businesses that don’t support him and rewarding those that do “isn’t the harm it inflicts on corporations, it’s the incentives this regime creates for political sycophancy.” That takes us on the road toward an authoritarian state.