Tesla Inc.’s Elon Musk spoke out in opposition to President Joe Biden’s signature economic package, questioning the need for legislation that would support electric-car adoption due to concerns government spending is out of control.
“Honestly, I would just can this whole bill,” Tesla’s CEO said late Monday, during a remote appearance at a Wall Street Journal conference. “Don’t pass it. That’s my recommendation.”
Musk’s stance would seem to be in conflict with Tesla’s stated mission: to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. But the last several years, the company has been competing at a disadvantage to other automakers marketing EVs in the U.S. Tesla reached a limit for the number of vehicles that qualified for a $7,500 federal tax credit in mid 2018, which led the incentive to gradually shrink to zero as of January 2020.
While Biden’s Build Back Better proposal would reinstate a $7,500 credit for Tesla and do away with any limit on the number of EVs that are eligible per manufacturer, it also would give consumers another $4,500 if the car is assembled by union workers. That would preserve a leg up for other automakers, since Musk has opposed the UAW's effort to organize Tesla’s car plant in Fremont, Calif.
Musk’s criticisms -- he described the federal budget deficit as “insane” and unsustainable -- follow months of public tension between the world’s richest man and the White House. In August, Biden welcomed General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler owner Stellantis to the White House lawn to announce an executive order to electrify cars sold in the U.S. over the remainder of the decade. Tesla wasn’t invited.
Last month, Biden visited a plant GM has retooled to make EVs and said the company and Detroit were playing leading roles in advancing electric cars. Tesla is the world’s largest maker and seller of EVs.