Elon Musk slams Biden on Twitter over GM, Ford meeting

Riley Beggin
The Detroit News

Washington — Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk ripped into President Joe Biden on Twitter Thursday over his meeting with General Motors Co. CEO Mary Barra and Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Farley. 

The two attended a roundtable with other CEOs Wednesday at the White House to speak about their support for Biden's Build Back Better bill, which has stalled in Congress after centrist Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, said he couldn't support it.

Afterward, Biden released a video with Barra saying that "companies like GM and Ford are building more electric vehicles here at home than ever before."

Musk responded: "Starts with a T, Ends with an A, ESL in the middle" and later added, "Biden is a damp (sock) puppet in human form" and that "Biden is treating the American public like fools."

Spokespeople for the White House, Ford and GM did not immediately respond to request for comment Thursday.

Telsa still sells the vast majority of electric vehicles in the U.S., despite recent investments from GM and Ford to ramp up production in an industry-wide shift to electrification. 

As Biden proposes policies aimed at increasing EV sales, he has frequently brought in leaders from GM, Ford and Stellantis NV — three automakers whose hourly workers are members of the United Auto Workers — to represent manufacturers embracing the change. 

It's been a source of frustration for Musk, leader of the only other major automaker headquartered in the U.S. and which has been an EV pioneer. He's called Biden's White House "not the friendliest administration" and complained that it's "controlled by the unions." Tesla has actively fought unionization efforts at its plants. 

Farley and Barra told Biden on Wednesday that they support the passage of electric vehicle tax credits that would lift the 200,000-vehicle cap on EV sales benefiting from an existing federal tax credit and expand the discount so consumers could get up to $12,500 off the price of a new EV.

As it currently stands, the proposed credits would benefit the Detroit Three and the UAW by paying $4,500 for vehicles assembled in a union facility.

Barra also spoke in support of tax credits for battery and other advanced manufacturing and for $52 billion in domestic semiconductor chip funding. 

In December, Musk called on Congress not to pass the Build Back Better legislation that includes the advanced manufacturing and EV tax credits, arguing the industry doesn't need government support and if federal spending isn't curbed, "something really bad is going to happen."

While foreign automakers operating in the U.S. have opposed the union provision of the proposed EV tax credits, the industry is largely supportive of government spending on charging and other incentives to speed up the transition to EVs. 

The package hit a potential dead end in December, when Manchin — a crucial swing vote in the evenly-divided Senate — said he couldn't support the package. Democrats are now considering how they may pass portions of the legislation as standalone bills before the end of the year. 


Twitter: @rbeggin