Elon Musk slams Biden’s plan to spend government money on electric vehicles


Tesla CEO Elon Musk gestures during the Tesla China-made Model 3 Delivery Ceremony in Shanghai.

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he’s against President Joe Biden’s social and climate spending bill, pointing to his concerns about the “insane” federal deficit.

“Honestly, I would just can this whole bill,” Musk said late Monday during The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit. “Don’t pass it, that’s my recommendation.”

The Build Back Better Act, which has passed in the House but has yet to go to the Senate, includes tax incentives of up to $12,500 for vehicles built by autoworker union members to spur consumer demand in electric vehicles. The Biden administration’s efforts would reinstate a $7,500 federal credit for Tesla, which doesn’t have union workers building cars, once again giving Tesla the same credits that many other automakers are still eligible for. But Tesla has been operating without the standard $7,500 for nearly two years now and is doing just fine, Musk said.

The Build Back Better Act follows Biden’s infrastructure bill, which was signed into law last month. It includes $7.5 billion to build out the nation’s electric-vehicle charging stations. Musk also said Monday that government funding for EV charging is unnecessary.

“Do we need support for gas stations? We don’t,” Musk said. “So there’s no need for support for a charging network. I would delete it. I’m literally saying get rid of all subsidies, but also for oil and gas.”

Musk said the government should act more like a sports referee than a player on the field. Still, he conceded that U.S. cities need better airports and highways, and that self-driving cars, which Tesla is trying to develop, but has not yet delivered, are likely to choke the highways with traffic in the future. 

“As autonomous vehicles come to the fore and it is easier to drive without going through the pain of having to drive, which is absolutely coming, it will be one of the biggest transformations ever in human civilization, and there will be more cars on the road. Traffic will get worse,” Musk said.

He is not a fan of “flying cars,” which he described as helicopters with wheels. “People do not want the skies to be swarming with helicopters,” Musk said.

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Instead, Musk’s vision is to create a combination of double-decker freeways and tunnels to make room for more free flowing traffic on the ground. One of Musk’s start-ups, The Boring Company, builds tunnels, while Tesla provides electric cars that carry passengers through them.

Researchers have consistently observed induced demand that shows traffic intensifies, and is not alleviated, where new highway lanes are built, but Musk did not address this issue.

Later in the discussion, Musk said that he is not an “extreme libertarian,” against all government spending. He sees space and science programs, like sending a probe to Mars, as justified federal efforts.

“The value of that is a small amount of value for all citizens but it would be inefficient to go and collect $10 from every citizen for a Mars probe. Therefore, it is better to have the government do something like a heavy science program, rather than try to collect small amount of money from everyone,” he said.

CNBC’s Lora Kolodny contributed reporting.

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