Biden digs at Tesla CEO Elon Musk on economy, touts Ford
President Joe Biden on Friday brushed off Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s reported “super bad feeling” about the U.S. economy, while praising some of Musk’s competitors for expanding their investments in electric vehicles.
Biden then took a dismissive-sounding swipe at Musk, a frequent critic of his administration. “Lots of luck on his trip to the moon,” Biden said of the SpaceX founder.
The president had been asked about Musk after a speech in Delaware touting the solid jobs report released earlier Friday. The Labor Department found that the U.S. economy added 390,000 jobs in May, a better figure than expected, while the unemployment rate held at the low level of 3.6%.
Musk, meanwhile, told executives in an email Thursday that he has a “super bad feeling” about the economy and will need to cut 10% of Tesla’s jobs, according to Reuters. Tesla shares fell on Friday.
Asked about Musk’s reported feeling, Biden praised Ford and Stellantis.
“Well, let me tell you, while Elon Musk is talking about that, Ford is increasing their investment overwhelmingly,” Biden said, pulling a notecard from his jacket pocket.
“I think Ford is increasing investment in building new electric vehicles, 6,000 new employees, union employees, I might add, in the Midwest,” he said, adding that “the former Chrysler corporation, Stellantis, they are also making similar investments in electric vehicles.”
Biden also noted Intel’s plans to add 20,000 new jobs as part of an investment in Ohio.
“So, you know, lots of luck on his trip to the moon,” Biden said with a wave of his hands.
Musk didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. But within minutes of Biden’s remark, Musk tweeted “Thanks Mr. President!” along with an April 2021 press release from NASA announcing that SpaceX, Musk’s rocket travel company, had been selected to land the next Americans on the moon.
Musk, one of the world’s richest people, is in the midst of a deal to purchase Twitter for $44 billion. He’s recently taken to sharing more politically charged tweets, including one message last month bashing Democrats and vowing to vote Republican.
The president’s put-down marked the latest point of friction with Musk, who has been openly critical of both the White House and Biden himself.
In March, Musk bristled after Biden’s State of the Union address cheered the electric-vehicle efforts being made by Ford and General Motors while failing to mention Tesla.
“Nobody is watching the State of the Union,” Musk said in an email to CNBC.
Two months later, Musk slammed the Biden administration as ineffective and said that “the real president is whoever controls [Biden’s] teleprompter.”
A spokesman for Biden shot back: “Count us as unsurprised that an anti-labor billionaire would look for any opportunity to nip at the heels of the most pro-union and pro-worker President in modern history.”
— CNBC’s Brian Schwartz contributed to this report.