It's about time for Joe Biden to stop subsidizing Elon Musk
Why does the Biden administration continue to create more subsidies to benefit Elon Musk, the wealthiest man in the world? Everyone else in the government seems to understand that Musk doesn't need more taxpayer funds.
Recently, the Federal Communications Commission rejected the billionaire's nearly $1-billion subsidy bid for SpaceX's Starlink internet network, stating that it "failed to demonstrate that the providers could deliver the promised service" needed to receive the subsidies.
The FCC's skepticism over the reliability of Musk's subsidized products tracks with the criticism expressed by President Donald J. Trump last month in a Truth Social post. He wrote, "When Elon Musk came to the White House asking me for help on all of his many subsidized projects, whether it's electric cars that don't drive long enough, driverless cars that crash, or rocketships to nowhere, without which subsidies he'd be worthless...I could have said, 'drop to your knees and beg,' and he would have done it."
But never one to let logic get in the way of its decision-making, the Biden administration is allowing even more of taxpayers' money to flow to one of its favorite billionaire climate activists.
On August 16, Biden signed the misnamed Inflation Reduction Act into law, which will reinstate the $7,500 tax credit for purchasers of electric vehicles for Musk's Tesla, albeit with some price caps. Tesla has long lobbied for the federal government to remove the 200,000 sales limit on this subsidy so that Tesla can sell more cars. Although the Trump administration refused, "Money Grows on Trees Biden" is about to wave his magic tax and spend wand and make it happen.
The question is, why? Biden's spin room is going out of its way to emphasize how the Inflation Reduction Act will benefit the middle class, yet this provision will help no one but Elon Musk and his wealthy customers. As former Treasury secretary Bay Buchanan pointed out, "the majority of the people who claim the EV have a household income of at least $100,000 a year, and 17 percent of the credit's beneficiaries make over $200,000 a year."
Musk's cars aren't even worth taxpayers' money from an efficiency standpoint. As Trump wrote, they "crash" and "don't drive long enough." Tesla has issued recalls for a quarter to half of its car sales, far more than most other manufacturers. These recalls cover minor to major issues, including airbags that explode and other serious safety concerns, leading to investigations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and other agencies.
His space offerings — which Trump categorized as "rocket ships to nowhere" — don't seem to fare any better in the reliability department. In 2015, after another unsuccessful flight, Musk tweeted, "Odds of rocket landing successfully today are still less than 50%. The 80% figure by end of year is only bcs many launches ahead." It's also far from the only time. Move forward to 2020, when the company launched a SpaceX rocket in violation of the terms of SpaceX's Federal Aviation Administration test license. That test flight all too predictably resulted in an explosion. As recently as last month, a SpaceX rocket booster exploded on a south Texas launchpad. As Musk noted, "Not good." Yet SpaceX continues to benefit from government money.
The icing on the cake is that Musk isn't even giving the government a good deal. For instance, with its recent selection of SpaceX for the Roman Space Telescope launch, valued at $255 million, NASA is paying nearly three times what for-profit corporate clients have traditionally paid for the Falcon Heavy's launch services. And that's just one example.
Musk may support the Biden administration's efforts to advance the Green New Deal, but that's hardly a reason to continue priming the pump for him. Doing so is an insult to the Main Street Americans whom the White House claims to always keep at the top of its mind. This is yet another indication that our interests are being ignored. The rich continue to get richer while taxpayers pick up the tab.
Elon Musk himself said in a tweet last November, "It has always been Tesla's view that all subsidies should be eliminated, but that must include the massive subsidies for oil & gas. For some reason, governments don't want to do that[.]"
We all realize that subsidies and other favoritism in the market lead to inefficiency and complacency. Musk's companies have repeatedly demonstrated this. Let's abolish subsidies and related government favoritism — not just for Tesla and SpaceX, but for the entire economy. The world will be a fairer and better place because of it.
Haley Kennington is a conservative writer. Follow her on Twitter: @ladykennington.
Image: JD Lasica via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0 (cropped).