Tesla CEO Elon Musk slams Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders on Twitter on Sunday after Sanders said, “We must insist that the extraordinarily rich pay their fair share.”
“I keep forgetting that you’re still alive,” Musk said to the 80-year-old senator and then mentioned the idea of selling more Tesla shares, which would oblige him to pay taxes.
“Would you like me to sell you some more stock, Bernie?” Musk followed up with a tweet. “Simply speak the word…”
The wealthy CEO, who also runs SpaceX, has lately made headlines for selling about $7 billion worth of Tesla stock last week, causing the company’s stock to drop around 15%.
Last weekend, the 50-year-old businessman, considered the wealthiest person on the planet by some accounts, tweeted that he would sell 10% of his shares if users on the platform supported the move.
In total, 58 percent of those polled said yes.
Musk left out one small detail: he has millions of stock options that must get exercised before they expire in August of next year. “We expect the stock sales to continue,” says Jason Benowitz, senior portfolio manager at Roosevelt Investment Group. “Musk controls millions of options worth billions of dollars that would otherwise expire worthlessly.”
Sanders has made taxing the ultra-wealthy a central aspect of his program for a long time. Sanders claimed in March that the wealth amassed by Musk and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is “immoral.” He has proposed a 0.1 percent annual tax on the wealthiest 0.1 percent of the population.
Democrats have proposed taxing billionaires to support President Joe Biden’s social spending plans and fix a loophole that permits many of the world’s wealthiest people to avoid paying capital gains taxes.
Musk’s Twitter poll on selling his holdings was a perfect example of why the tax should be enacted, according to several proponents of the tax. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon tweeted, “Whether or not the world’s wealthiest man pays any taxes at all shouldn’t be determined by the results of a Twitter vote.” “The Billionaires Income Tax is now in effect.” Musk has an estimated net worth of 286 billion dollars.
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