Elon Musk has finally come out, politically. He used to vote for the Democrats, but can now only vote for Republicans.
The CEO of Tesla and President Biden should be natural allies. Biden has an ambitious green energy agenda, including mass electrification of automobiles. Musk runs the world’s largest electric vehicle company. They are rowing in the same direction and should be in the same boat.
Instead, they splash around like 12-year-olds. Biden has upset Musk by singling out rivals such as General Motors and Ford for their work on electric vehicles, even though both are miles away from Tesla. Biden is playing Michigan automakers because they are union shops. Tesla is not. Biden sees unions as a central constituency and disbanding Tesla is a concession for them.
Musk takes it personally. In January, on Twitter, Musk called Biden “wet sock puppet.” In a May 16 podcast, Musk said, “It’s hard to say what Biden is doing, to be totally candid. This administration, it doesn’t seem to be doing much.
Biden himself did not respond to Musk, but a White House spokesperson called Musk an “anti-worker billionaire,” while pointing to the big infrastructure bill Biden signed last November. , which included several billion dollars for electric vehicle charging networks.
This silly spat is still a lost opportunity for Biden, who wants hundreds of billions of dollars in additional green energy spending. It was in the ‘build back better’ legislation that failed last year and doesn’t seem likely to come back. An alliance with Musk would not automatically improve the prospects of this proposal, and Musk has criticized some grant proposals that would benefit companies other than Tesla more. But Biden and Musk still share a common cause, and Biden could gain far more by allying with Musk than by irritating him. Musk is an entrepreneurial, counter-cultural hero with 94 million Twitter followers. Why doesn’t Biden invite him to the White House to discuss the goals they have in common?
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In fact, why not invite Jeff Bezos over and bury the hatchet with two anti-worker billionaires at once? That might settle another spat. Amazon’s president sparred with Biden after a May 13 tweet Biden posted, saying the way to bring inflation down is to raise corporate taxes. This milquetoast statement would now be forgotten, except Bezos stepped in, calling it “disinformationthen blamed the high inflation on Democratic spending plans.
It gave the White House press something juicy to discuss with new White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre other than the boring war in Ukraine and the unrelated stock market. here. Jean-Pierre reminded everyone that Bezos is “one of the richest individuals in the world” and said that he “opposes an economic program for the middle class”, etc. etc etc Bezos bad.
Economists have questioned whether Bezos was right. The answer: A little. But there is much more to inflation than government spending. CNN rightly called the whole thing “the dumbest fight ever.”
Unlike President Trump before him, Biden rarely gets into personal battles with critics. His aides fight back on his behalf, but the awesome Biden is an innocuous presence on Twitter, and he doesn’t really turn negative unless prompted. Trump, of course, came out swinging at the slightest infraction, and Biden, with some justification, clearly sees himself as a soothing, anti-Trump sedative for a restless nation.
So why isn’t diplomat Biden contacting Bezos and Musk? How about an olive branch? Biden, after all, is supposed to be friends with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is openly hostile to Biden’s presidential agenda and works every day to block it. When it comes to the agenda, Biden has more in common with Musk and Bezos than McConnell.
As the guy who built Amazon, Bezos is a logistics and supply chain whiz who could advise Biden on efforts to fix the warped distribution systems that are contributing to inflation. Musk has crucial knowledge about the rare elements needed to produce EV batteries, one of the supply issues that must be solved to produce EVs at scale. Choose their brains and show some deference. Acknowledge where you disagree – taxes, unions, etc. – then indicate the points of agreement.
Of course, both Bezos and Musk are dastardly billionaires, and therefore enemies of the liberal Democrats Biden has spent his presidency trying to appease. Biden has presented himself as a centrist and a capitalist, but his administration is now sending the message that wealth is inherently bad. Bernie Sanders and AOC would yell if Biden cavorts with Musk or Bezos, so the cold shoulder will likely get colder. Who needs their votes, anyway?
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