Elon Musk took to Twitter to attack a proposal from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders that would place a 60% tax on wealth gained by billionaires during the coronavirus, calling it “socialism.”
Sanders responded by reminding the Tesla founder that he’s taken a total of $4.9 billion in “corporate socialism” to prop up his businesses.
As Business Insider reported, the exchange between the billionaire tech mogul and the former Democratic Party presidential candidate has attracted some interest amid a larger debate over growing income disparities during the COVID-19 crisis.
Musk started by tweeting an attack at Sanders, suggesting that he’s only trying to take the hard-earned money of others.
Sanders responded by pointing out that while Musk is attacking the idea of expanding government assistance for average Americans, he has taken $4.9 billion in government subsidies, which the Vermont senator referred to as “corporate socialism.”
As Business Insider noted, the subsidies have come to a number of Musk’s business interests including SpaceX, Tesla, and the newly acquired SolarCity. It has included grants, tax breaks, construction subsidies, environmental credits, and discounted loans, the report noted.
Every time Elon Musk pokes fun at government assistance for the 99%, remember that he would be worth nothing without $4.9 billion in corporate welfare. Oh, Elon just l-o-v-e-s corporate socialism for himself, rugged capitalism for everyone else. https://t.co/rj8FgwEDMQ pic.twitter.com/bxHcXul925
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) August 7, 2020
Under the proposal from Sanders, the revenue raised from the increased tax on billionaires for wealth made during the pandemic would go toward paying the out-of-pocket healthcare expenses for all Americans.
The proposal has captured some interest, with many pointing to Musk specifically as he has seen a significant windfall during the pandemic.
As CNBC reported, he would be hit with a one-time tax of $27.5 billion. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg would be on the hook for $22.8 billion, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos would owe $42.8 billion, while the Walmart-owning Walton family would collectively pay $12.9 billion, the report added.
The bill, which is co-sponsored by Democrats Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, aims to address the massive gains that some have made in the last few months, mostly from people hit hard by the coronavirus crisis.
“Under the bill, tech and other business titans who have seen their wealth shoot up during the pandemic would take huge charges,” the report noted. “Amazon and Walmart, for example, have both seen their stocks grow as Americans increasingly relied on their services during stay-at-home orders during the pandemic.”
The sometimes-massive gains for billionaires has drawn sharp scrutiny, especially as the crisis has led to a massive spike in unemployment and financial struggles for millions of people who are out of work.