The brouhaha started prior to President Trump’s announcement of the withdrawal from the Paris agreement when Musk threatened to quit the president’s Strategy and Policy Forum as well as his Manufacturing Council if a withdrawal was announced. The two advisory groups consist of leading business executives and labor leaders.
Musk followed through on his threat, sending out a tweet:
Am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.”
That’s when Senator Cruz swung into action with the following response:
In support of Paris, CA billionaires pledge to never fly again private, will only fly commercial. J/K, — will quit symbolic councils instead.”
Musk jets around in a Gulfstream G650 ER, which costs about $66.5 million. Lord knows what its carbon footprint is.
The testy exchange set up a Twitter storm with supporters on both sides weighing in. Civility was not the rule of the day.
Those siding with Senator Cruz were quick to point out Musk and his companies represent a new class of corporate welfare. It’s no surprise he wants to keep the alternative energy gravy train and wealth redistribution scheme that the Paris agreement represents alive and well.
Musk owns and operates three companies heavily invested in alternative energy and technology: Tesla, which makes electric vehicles, SpaceX, which provides rockets for satellite launches and SolarCity, which makes solar panels.
Each business has been the recipient of government largesse. The Tesla plug-in electric car received federal loan guarantees for its factory, tax credits for its buyers and other subsidies to create a network of charging stations. The California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority provided an exemption from $320 million in state and federal taxes.
While President Barack Obama hyped electric vehicles as the way of the future, the Tesla vehicles currently are priced at around $70,000. At that price point, they’re clearly only toys for rich people.
The SpaceX satellite business has received Export-Import Bank loans and export subsidies from a similar export-import European authority. Recent plans to build a launch site in Texas garnered $20 billion in direct state and county subsidies.
New York state tax credits and subsidies for SolarCity’s solar panel production at its facility in Buffalo have totaled $750 million.
Nevada is providing a $1.4 billion package to finance a factory to build car batteries. However, the economics of electronic vehicles indicate that the high vehicle prices and short battery life will keep them from becoming prevalent in American households in the near future.
While Musk touts his reputation as a high-tech entrepreneur, he’s really displayed an uncanny skill for getting government to underwrite his businesses and vastly reduce his financial risk.
It started as early as 2010 when he traveled by private jet at least a dozen times to Washington D.C. to lobby the Department of Energy for a $465 million loan for Tesla.
Now, because of his snit over the Paris agreement, he’s lost a seat at the table in the White House and won’t have any influence over government policies that could impact his empire.
But he’s kept his street cred with the climate change fanatics.
Am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 1, 2017
In support of Paris, CA billionaires pledge to never again fly private, will only fly commercial. J/K–will quit symbolic councils instead. https://t.co/58QdYaoZVH
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) June 2, 2017