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Jeff Bezos’ Attempt to Bilk the Pentagon Must Be Stopped

The Amazon billionaire cannot be allowed to take taxpayers for a ride, no matter how much leverage over our government he has.
Jeff Bezos

When it comes to Jeff Bezos, his business acumen speaks for itself. The man practically revolutionized the online shopping experience and changed the face of American capitalism. His businesses support the livelihoods of half a million people. Without a doubt, the founder of Amazon has been a force for good in the world.

Still, Bezos is not above reproach, nor is he infallible.

Bezos may be mind-bogglingly rich, but he didn’t get that way without help from federal funds. A lot of them, actually. The founder of Amazon and owner of the Washington Post, personally valued at nearly $110 billion, certainly understands how to shift the levers of government in his favor. He isn’t above relying extensively on taxpayer money to grease the wheels of his enterprises. Bezos has a penchant for cronyism, and it’s there that he needs to be kept in check. That is especially the case regarding his aerospace military contracting firm, Blue Origin.

The Air Force is currently in the middle of picking contractors for the second round of a new major U.S. space initiative. Blue Origin won a multi-million-dollar contract during the first part of the program. Still, it seems to feel unconfident about its prospects in round two. Its sense of entitlement to government funds has caused it to file a lawsuit in an attempt to weaken the Air Force’s competitive bidding requirements and force the government to give contracts to others aside from the two best suited for the job.

Thankfully, on November 20, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) dismissed a large portion of the frivolous suit, claiming that the Air Force’s provisions were “reasonable and in accordance with applicable procurement law and regulation.” While experts believe the Air Force’s selection strategy for contracts will likely remain affected as a result of the GAO’s opinion, the finalization process for contracts will be delayed even further than it has been already as a result. That’s a win for Bezos, who has successfully bided for more time to complete his unfinished rocket, rig the market, and redirect taxpayer funds into his bank account. Yet for everyone other than the billionaire and his business, and especially for the free market system, the outcome has been disastrous.

More delays will only further embolden the Blue Origin founder to seek additional taxpayer assistance—and Bezos is bold enough as it is.

What’s more, just three days before Blue Origin managed to triumph over the Air Force, Bezos declared his intention to affect the outcome of yet another Department of Defense contract. On November 15, 2019, Amazon officially announced that it would be contesting the Pentagon’s decision to award its $10 billion cloud computing deal to Microsoft. Last month, Microsoft outcompeted Amazon for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract.

That’s right: despite the revolving door of Amazon staff at the Department of Defense agency in charge of purchasing cloud computing technology, Bezos’ company lost the bid. Clearly, that result wasn’t acceptable. Taking a page out of Blue Origin’s playbook, Bezos is now attempting to manipulate the federal government’s decision making process through what looks to be yet another lawsuit.

This is exactly the type of behavior for which Bezos must be held accountable. Despite the tremendous success he’s had, he is still human. And just like everyone else, he likes to get his way. What sets him apart is that he has the resources to influence the very levers of government. That can’t be allowed to happen. Billionaires, despite their inflated net worth, should not be able to buy themselves a bailout from the American taxpayer. It sets a massively dangerous precedent, and it’s precisely why the United States must put an end to it.

Norm Singleton is the chairman of Campaign for Liberty. He previously served as an aide to Texas Congressman Ron Paul, and is a founding member of the Republican Liberty Caucus.

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