OPINION: The Swamp Is Infested With Cronyism
The D.C. swamp’s most unusual creature: cronyism. It’s the way business is done in D.C.
President Trump came to Washington with his signature line, “Drain the swamp.” Unfortunately for the president, the swamp does not want to be drained.
When the average American thinks of the D.C. swamp, there are a lot of images that come to mind. One that probably does not come to mind is one of the swamp’s most unusual and powerful creatures.
Most Americans think of Amazon as the company that saves them the trouble of going to the mall or has given us the ubiquitous “Alexa” in the Amazon echo. Shockingly, Amazon is the largest sponsor of DC lobbying. Since 2000, Amazon has spent an eye-popping $67 million on lobbying at the federal and state levels. Amazon employees an army of over 100 lobbyists.
Why would Amazon need to spend that kind of money? It certainly isn’t for Alexa.
In this day and age, corporations spend that kind of money on government relations for one reason: they want something in return.
For Amazon, which has a history of receiving government benefits, has set its eyes on a ten-year contract with the Department of Defense, to move all of their computing into the cloud. This is a single source, winner-takes-all contract. In other words, Amazon will have no competition for ten years for the Pentagon’s data business.
What could possibly go wrong?
On October 4, 2018, Bloomberg News reported a story that sent shock waves through the government. Chinese spies had attached a small chip to the motherboards of certain servers; investigators found tiny chips that had been added on. These chips provided a backdoor to the servers.
This incident has apparently been under investigation by the government for over three years. Government insiders interviewed for the Bloomberg news story refuted Amazon (and other companies) claims that they knew nothing about the compromise as far back as 2015.
Amazon has had a contract with the CIA for several years. In 2012, Amazon provided IT services to the Obama re-election campaign, worth several million. Amazon was rewarded with millions of dollars in government contracts to move government computing operations to the cloud. In fact, by 2019, the government is expected to pay Amazon about $4.6 billion for services, up from only $300 million in 2015.
These figures do not even take into account other companies that Amazon’s owner Jeff Bezos owns that have received government subsidies, such as Blue Origin.
President Trump has criticized Amazon and its owner Jeff Bezos. Those criticisms are not without cause. Now, the government in the Defense Department wants to give Amazon a single source, ten-billion-dollar contract for cloud services. It is an axiom of American life that the government overpays for anything it buys. Remember back in July, when the Air Force admitted it was paying $10,000 per seat for toilet seat covers?
Given the government’s penchant for overpaying to begin with, how well does anyone think a contract, being steered exclusively to one buyer will play out.
The taxpayers will end up footing the bill, as they always do. Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos and Amazon will continue to get rich off of the backs of the American taxpayer.
The President needs to drain the DC swamp. Draining it starts with the big corporations that are feeding at the public trough. The President could start with Amazon.
Judson Phillips is the founder of Tea Party Nation. He is also a freelance author and frequent guest on cable and broadcast news shows, including on Fox, MSNBC, CNN, and others.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.