War of Words Escalates Between Elon Musk and Crypto-Critic Senator Elizabeth Warren

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Sen. Warren started the fracus alleging Musk is a freeloading billionaire who doesn't pay taxes.

Key points

  • The same day serial entrepreneur Elon Musk was named TIME magazine's 2021 Person of the Year, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) tweeted Musk was a tax-avoiding, freeloading billionaire.
  • He fired back saying she's lying and that his 2021 tax bill is $11 billion. He also called for her to step down, claiming that Massachusetts residents deserve better leadership.
  • During her 2020 presidential campaign, it was reported that Warren's net worth was $12 million. Musk's net worth is currently estimated at $240 billion. They're both rich.
  • Warren is pushing for passage of a wealth tax proposal that would add another 2% yearly on individuals worth $50 million or more and 3% on billionaires.

In mid-December, TIME magazine named Tesla/SpaceX CEO Elon Musk as its 2021 Person of the Year. That same day, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) issued a tweet that named Musk a tax-avoiding, freeloader.

The Senator wrote on Twitter: "Let's change the rigged tax code so The Person of the Year will actually pay taxes and stop freeloading off everyone else."

Within hours, the billionaire Musk replied directly with the following string of zingers to the Senator's social media feed:

  • "And if you opened your eyes for 2 seconds, you would realize I will pay more taxes than any American in history this year."
  • "Don't spend it all at once … oh wait you did already."
  • "You remind me of when I was a kid and my friend's angry Mom would just randomly yell at everyone for no reason."
  • "Please don't call the manager on me, Senator Karen"
  • Culminating with this tweet on Dec. 17 "The great state of Massachusetts deserves someone better."

Sen. Warren opposes crypto, Musk is a staunch supporter

Another point of division between these two strong personalities is the topic of cryptocurrencies. Sen. Warren has been a vocal critic of crypto for many months. In fact, during a recent Senate Banking committee hearing on stablecoins, she attacked the decentralized finance (DeFi) sector calling it the most dangerous area of the crypto industry. "This is where regulation is effectively absent -- and no surprise -- it's where the scammers and the cheats and the swindlers mix among part-time investors and first-time crypto traders."

Conversely, Musk has been a staunch supporter and de facto crypto influencer. So much so that earlier this month he jokingly said that he was considering stepping down as Tesla's CEO to become a full-time influencer. While the comment was completely in jest, his power as an influencer within the crypto space is no joke. He has caused big price swings by issuing dozens of vague tweets about several different types of crypto projects.

Make no mistake, both Sen. Warren and Musk are rich

During the runup to the 2020 presidential election, before she dropped out, Sen. Warren was featured in a Forbes article that dissected her net worth. The report found that her total assets minus total liabilities left a very healthy net worth estimate of $12 million. That amount comprised retirement funds, proceeds from book-writing deals with Macmillan publishing, and various real estate holdings, making her -- you guessed it -- rich.

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We already know Musk is loaded with an estimated net worth of more than $240 billion. What most people don't know is that he doesn't earn a salary or cash bonus from SpaceX or Tesla. Rather, Musk's executive compensation package consists almost entirely of stock options that increase in value as the company's stock price does. So far, Tesla's share price is up 28% year to date.

It's likely that Warren started this Twitter feud because she's pushing for passage of a wealth tax. Her proposal would add another 2% yearly on individuals worth $50 million or more; and 3% on billionaire "freeloaders" like Musk. How does that saying go about people in glass houses and throwing stones?

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