In an interview with CNBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, President Donald Trump praised Tesla CEO Elon Musk stating that he is “one of our very smart people, and we want to cherish those people.”
During an interview with CNBC’s Joe Kernen at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trump praised Tesla CEO and SpaceX founder Elon Musk calling him one of the world’s “great geniuses,” and comparing him to Thomas Edison.
Musk is “one of our great geniuses, and we have to protect our genius,” President Trump said, adding: “You know, we have to protect Thomas Edison and we have to protect all of these people that came up with originally the light bulb and the wheel and all of these things. And he’s one of our very smart people and we want to cherish those people.”
The President also praised Musk’s work with SpaceX stating: “I spoke to him very recently, and he’s also doing the rockets. He likes rockets. And he does good at rockets, too, by the way. I never saw where the engines come down with no wings, no anything, and they’re landing. I said I’ve never seen that before.”
At a rally in 2018, President Trump discussed the creation of the United States Space Force and expressed his admiration for Elon Musk and his company SpaceX. During the speech, President Trump suggested that the United States let “rich guys” like Musk spend their own money on advancing space exploration while renting NASA launchpads for their projects — the only problem is that SpaceX is massively funded by taxpayer money and is not independently funded by Elon Musk. Americans will still be paying to further the country’s space exploration abilities.
Breitbart News wrote at the time:
While Elon Musk’s SpaceX is a privately owned company, it’s also a company that is heavily funded by government subsidies and contracts. Discussing Elon Musk, Dan Dolev, an analyst at Jefferies Equity Research stated: “He definitely goes where there is government money. That’s a great strategy, but the government will cut you off one day.” Three of Elon Musk’s companies, Tesla Motors, SolarCity, and SpaceX, have received billions in funding, support, and incentives from the U.S. government.
In 2014, Musk pushed for the approval of the AB 777 bill which would exempt spaceflight companies from property taxes. The Wall Street Journalwrote at the time: “Upon his request, Democrats who dominate the legislature are moving to exempt SpaceX and other space-travel companies from California’s personal property tax. SpaceX could have sought an appeal of a property tax bill it received last year for engines built at its headquarters, but instead “jumped the queue and petitioned the legislature for a tax reprieve.”
Shortly after this, SpaceX moved their operations from California to Brownsville, Texas. This decision was made as Texas offered the company a $100 million economic incentive package, $15 million for closing the deal and agreeing to move and a commitment from the state to invest $85 million into infrastructure investments to support the company. Texas offered these subsidies to Tesla in an effort to create 300 high-paying jobs in Brownsville which has previously been rated as the poorest city in America.
Aside from this, SpaceX has received $5.5 billion in government contracts from NASA and the U.S. Air Force. This means that government money is funding a large number of SpaceX’s operations. This is not a case of “rich guys” paying for something so that American citizens will not have to. Mark Spiegel, a hedge fund manager for Stanphyl Capital Partners told the LA Times: “Government support is a theme of all three of these companies, and without it none of them would be around.”
Politico reported in October of 2019 that following Musk’s appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast where he smoked weed and drank whiskey, NASA ordered a review of SpaceX’s work culture. But Politico reported that taxpayers, not SpaceX, would be bearing the cost of the review.
NASA reportedly agreed to pay SpaceX $5 million in May of 2019 to cover the cost of the review which included educating employees and ensuring they follow strict guidelines for federal contractors banning drug use. The review was seen by many as a highly unusual expenditure given that it was Musk’s actions which prompted the review in the first place.
The NASA contract to SpaceX to pay for the workplace review, which was a modification of a previous contract to build a space capsule, added to ongoing tensions with Musk’s established rival Boeing. Boeing and SpaceX are competing to build a new space capsule for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program with SpaceX building the Crew Dragon capsule and Boeing manufacturing the Starliner, both of which are behind schedule.
Boeing also performed the same workplace safety and culture review, but unlike SpaceX it didn’t receive any extra funds to do. Pete Garrettson, a recently retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and space strategist commented on the situation stating: “As a taxpayer why would I pay when I don’t have to? If I was Boeing, I also would have said, ‘Why am I being punished without the same compensation?’”
Garrettson added: “If I was at NASA, I’d say, ‘How much was your contract [for the Commercial Crew Program] padded compared to SpaceX?’” SpaceX stated that it is using the money to cover the cost of the review which includes interviewing staff across the country and was not part of the company’s original contract for the Crew Dragon capsule in 2014.
In relation to Musk’s other firm, Tesla, in October the NHTSA began investigating whether Tesla should have recalled 2,000 cars in May instead of issuing a software update to fix an issue that could cause battery fires in Model S and Model X vehicles from the 2012-2019 model years.
Breitbart News reported earlier this month that the NHTSA has announced that it is launching an investigation into a crash on December 29 in Indiana in which a Tesla Model 3 collided with a fire truck. The crash resulted in the death of a passenger and marks the 14th crash involving a Tesla that the NHTSA’s special crash investigation program has taken up in which it suspects that the vehicles Autopilot system was in use.