Beltway robber baron Elon Musk already infiltrating Trump administration

What Hillary Clinton supporter and contributor is already infiltrating the Trump administration?  The answer should be obvious: famed Beltway robber baron Elon Musk.

Musk likes to prance around as a big-time industry mogul, as CEO of the electric car company Tesla and as chairman of the Space X rocket launch company.  But a Los Angeles Times exposé calculated that Musk's companies have benefited from $4.9 billion in government support.  That support has taken the form of grants, tax breaks, factory construction, discounted loans, environmental credits, and tax credits and rebates to customers of Musk's companies.

With nearly $5 billion in taxpayer-funded support, I could play a big-time industry mogul, too.  But reaping that taxpayer-funded windfall does not come easy.  Musk has to be politically nimble to keep the pipeline flowing.

Musk was a Hillary Clinton supporter, calling her economic and environmental policies "the right ones," and a maximum contributor during the 2016 election.  But now Musk has already flipped over and won appointment to an advisory panel for President-Elect Donald Trump.

Musk has long been on both sides of every issue.  He was a contributor this past election season to Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham.  He favors relaxing America's immigration laws to enable more free entry into the United States, regardless of the impacts on working people.  Just last month, he said he "thinks a bit strongly that [Trump] is probably not the right guy for the presidency."

That has not stopped him from now joining the Trump team.  Indeed, since 2003, political chameleon Musk has contributed $258,350 to Democrats and $261,300 to Republicans, public records show.

Now Musk is looking for still more payoffs.  He is seeking billions more in taxpayer dollars to subsidize rocket launches of people to colonize Mars.  This despite serial failures of Musk's often far-fetched fantasies.

Just last year, another Space X rocket blew up on the launching pad.  Even Musk acknowledges that anyone reckless enough to spend $200,000 for a Space X ride to Mars would be rolling the dice with his own life.  "Are you prepared to die?" he has asked.  If so, you are a candidate for one of his rocket rides to Mars.

Even he has said that he won't be among the first to take one of his own rides to Mars.  "I'd really need to have a good succession plan because the probability of death is really high on the first mission," Musk has said.  That gives new meaning to the admonition "let the buyer beware. "

There is method to this madness.  Musk's grand plans feed his reputation as a daring, farsighted thinker, serving as a much needed distraction from his serial failures.

Besides his failed rocket launches, Musk's Tesla is binging on money to feed his race to finish a huge battery manufacturing factory in the Nevada desert, slated to supply batteries for his announced Model 3 car, scheduled for mass marketing next year.

Musk has also merged Tesla and Solar City Corp., which installs heavily subsidized rooftop solar panels.  Not publicized is that Musk is on both sides of that deal, as chief executive officer of Tesla and chairman and largest shareholder of Solar City.

Bloomberg Technology columnist and famed short-seller Jim Chanos has labeled the proposed $2-billion merger, to be financed by an all-stock transaction of worthless paper, as a "walking insolvency."  There are shades of the Solyndra bankruptcy, which cost taxpayers a billion dollars in losses.

Musk is the very definition of a "crony capitalist," which is a businessman who succeeds only because of political favoritism available only to political insiders.  That is why he contributes to both parties and supports both sides of every issue.  In other words, Musk is a classic example of corporate and political corruption, a  corporate version of a welfare queen living off of the taxpayers.

Peter Ferrara is a senior fellow at the Heartland Institute and a senior adviser to the National Taxpayer Limitation Committee.  He served President Reagan in the White House Office of Policy Development and President George H.W. Bush as associate deputy attorney general of the United States.