Who are you gonna believe: the world’s richest man or the president with plunging poll numbers?
Billionaire Elon Musk has such a “super bad feeling” about the U.S, economy under President Biden that he plans to lay off about 10% of the workers at his Tesla electric car company, it emerged Friday.
Joe Biden vs. Elon Musk in war of words over state of US economy
Musk snarked back on Twitter with a link to a 2021 NASA press release about SpaceX winning a $2.89 billion contract to send the next American astronauts to the moon in preparation for an eventual trip to Mars, where Musk plans to establish a human colony.
“Thanks Mr President!” he added.
The war of words erupted against the backdrop of Musk’s new status as the No. 1 enemy of progressives, who are infuriated that he plans to buy Twitter and turn it into a platform for unregulated free speech, which proponents say would give conservative viewpoints a footing on the liberal–dominated social media site.
On April 15, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) sarcastically wished Musk a “Happy Tax Day,” noting that he reportedly paid no federal income tax in 2018 — even though he said he’d pay a record $11 billion on his 2021 earnings.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has also accused Musk of having “an ego problem” and last week told Bloomberg she wanted to ditch her Tesla Model 3 for an electric vehicle made by unionized workers.
Musk is an outspoken opponent of unions who recently tweeted that he planned to stop voting for Democrats “because they have become the party of division & hate, so I can no longer support them and will vote Republican.”
In a follow-up email to employees, Musk said that the company would reduce its salaried headcount by 10% because it’s “overstaffed in many areas” but that “hourly headcount will increase,” according to Reuters.
And while demand for Teslas and other electric vehicles has remained strong, analyst Frank Schwope of the German bank NordLB said, “It is always better to introduce austerity measures in good times than in bad times.”
Biden — who scored a dismal 40% approval rating in a Rasmussen Reports poll Friday — contrasted Musk’s corporate cutbacks with Ford’s Thursday announcement that it planned to add 6,200 factory jobs in Michigan, Missouri and Ohio to boost production of electric vehicles.
But while job growth remained steady, May’s number marked the lowest monthly gain in a year and stock market indexes fell on expectations that the Federal Reserve would continue raising interest rates in a bid to ease inflation.
The Fed’s moves have already caused mortgage rates to spike, pushing down home sales, and increased the cost of borrowing for businesses seeking to invest in new buildings and equipment in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Joe Biden brushes off Elon Musk’s warnings about the economy while touting May jobs report
President Joe Biden on Friday brushed off economic warnings from Tesla CEO Elon Musk and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon as he touted May’s jobs report, saying the nation is likely to see more moderate gains as his administration struggles to get a handle on high inflation.
The President argued the nation is entering a new phase of “stable, steady growth” amid its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic as he touted Friday’s jobs report that showed the US added 390,000 jobs in May and the unemployment rate stayed at 3.6%.
Biden pointed to new investments and jobs added from Ford, Chrysler and Intel when asked about Musk’s recent comments that he has a “super bad feeling” about the economy and wants to cut about 10% of jobs at Tesla and Dimon’s warning that the economy is headed for a “hurricane.”
“While Elon Musk is talking about that, Ford is increasing their investment overwhelmingly. I think Ford is increasing investment building new electric vehicles, 6,000 new employees — union employees, I might add — in the Midwest. The former Chrysler corporation … they are also making similar investments in electric vehicles. Intel is adding 20,000 new jobs making computer chips,” Biden said.
“So, you know, lots of luck on his trip to the moon,” the President said about the SpaceX CEO. Musk responded to that barb in a tweet, linking to a 2021 NASA news release announcing its partnership with SpaceX for its Artemis program to develop a commercial moon lander and saying, “Thanks Mr. President!”
As the President touted last month’s jobs report and projected confidence in the nation’s economic trajectory, he also acknowledged many Americans “remain anxious” about high gas and food prices.
Biden again placed blame on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, while also saying, “I understand that families who are struggling probably don’t care why the prices are up. They just want them to go down.”
The President assured the American people he was doing “everything I can on my own to help working families during this stretch of higher prices,” but urged Congress to pass proposals he has put forward to lower costs.
The tempering of expectations about economic gains from the President comes as inflation is running at a near-four-decade high and concerns about a recession are mounting. In order to help get inflation under control, the Federal Reserve said it would hike its interest rates by a half-percentage point — the largest jump in 22 years.
“We aren’t likely to see the kind of blockbuster job reports month after month like we had over this past year, but that’s a good thing. That’s a sign of a healthy economy,” the President argued.
Earlier this week, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen acknowledged she had failed to anticipate how long high inflation would continue to affect Americans. Yellen told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that she was “was wrong then about the path that inflation would take,” when asked about her comments from 2021 that inflation posed only a “small risk.”
A number of top economic aides to the President have been taking to the airwaves to push the message that Biden is focused on bringing down consumer prices in an attempt to boost the President’s low approval ratings. The White House recently launched a month-long effort to signal heavy focus on the economy less than six months out from this fall’s midterm elections.