Elon Musk, the head of Tesla, attacked Sen. Bernie Sanders on Twitter on Sunday after the lawmaker from Vermont tweeted that “we must demand that the extremely wealthy pay their fair share.” Musk responded to the 80-year-old senator by saying: “I keep forgetting that you’re still alive” and later raised the possibility of selling more Tesla shares, which would require him to pay taxes. “Want me to sell more stock, Bernie?” Musk tweeted a little while later. “Just say the word…”
The billionaire CEO who also heads up SpaceX, has recently been in the news for offloading almost $7 billion worth of Tesla shares last week, which helped push the company’s shares down around 15 percent. The 50-year-old executive, who by some counts is the richest person ever, tweeted last weekend that he would sell 10 percent of his shares if users of the platform approved the move. In all 58 percent of voters in the poll responded yes. One little detail Musk didn’t mention is that he had millions of stock options that must be exercised before they expire in August of next year. “We expect the share sales will continue, as Musk holds millions of options worth billions of dollars that would otherwise expire worthless,” Jason Benowitz, senior portfolio manager at the Roosevelt Investment Group, told Reuters.
Sanders has long made taxing the extremely wealthy a key part of his platform. In March, Sanders said that the amount of wealth accumulated by Musk and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is “immoral.” He has proposed an annual tax on the top 0.1 percent of households. Democrats have put forward a proposal to tax billionaires as a way to fund President Joe Biden’s social spending plans as well as close a loophole that allows many of the extremely wealthy to defer capital gains taxes. For some proponents of the tax, Musk’s Twitter poll on selling his stocks was a perfect example of why it should be implemented. “Whether or not the world’s wealthiest man pays any taxes at all shouldn’t depend on the results of a Twitter poll,” Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon tweeted. “It’s time for the Billionaires Income Tax.” Musk is worth around $286 billion, according to Bloomberg.