‘World's Richest Freeloader': Elizabeth Warren Claps Back at Elon Musk For 'Senator Karen' Tweet

© REUTERS / Michele TantussiSpaceX founder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk looks on as he visits the construction site of Tesla's gigafactory in Gruenheide, near Berlin, Germany, May 17, 2021.
SpaceX founder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk looks on as he visits the construction site of Tesla's gigafactory in Gruenheide, near Berlin, Germany, May 17, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 16.12.2021
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Tesla CEO Elon Musk earlier locked horns with Senator Elizabeth Warren on Twitter after she accused him - the world's richest man - of living off society due to the "rigged" US tax code.
The heated war of words between Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Tesla CEO Elon Musk escalated on Wednesday as the Massachusetts Senator denounced the tech maverick as “the world's richest freeloader”.
In an interview with MSNBC host Joy Reid, Warren was responding to Musk's now infamous “Senator Karen” tweet aimed at her, after she had accused him of taking advantage of the “rigged” US tax code to dodge payments.
“The world's richest freeloader evidently has a very thin skin,” stated the Democratic senator, who has long advocated raising taxes on the wealthy by imposing a tax on the richest Americans' assets, rather than just their income.
“But you know the part that makes me angry about this? It's on behalf of every public school teacher, every waitress, every computer programmer, every street cleaner who actually paid taxes, and that means they paid more than Elon Musk did in federal income taxes. And that's just not right, and it means the system is broken,” fumed Warren.
She went on to point out the fact that people like Musk “not only get to rake it all in, but then rub everybody else's nose in it while they head off into outer space and declare how they did this all on their own when they were subsidised by the federal government and subsidised by every waitress and public school teacher who paid their taxes.”
Warning that such days were over, she urged Elon Musk to “eat a big dish of that”. The verbal vendetta was triggered between the two after news broke that the Tesla chief and space entrepreneur had been named Time Magazine's Person of the Year on 13 December.
Elon Musk, founder and CEO of rocket company SpaceX and Tesla Chief Executive Officer, poses on the cover image of Time magazine's 2021 Person of the Year edition released in New York City, U.S. December 13, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 13.12.2021
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Senator Warren went on Twitter to note that it was time to “change the rigged tax code so The Person of the Year will actually pay taxes and stop freeloading off everyone else”.
The former law professor referred to a report by ProPublica, published in June, revealing that several US billionaires, such as Amazon co-founder Jeff Bezos, business magnate Warren Buffett, and Elon Musk paid little to no taxes. The outlet had cited a "vast trove of Internal Revenue Service data", showing Musk had paid no federal income taxes at all in 2018, when he also didn’t sell any shares of Tesla.
According to the report, Musk paid a total of $455 million in federal income taxes between 2014 and 2018, while his wealth grew by $13.8 billion. Musk, who is worth an estimated $251 billion, according to Forbes' Real Time Billionaires estimate, quipped back to Warren on Twitter, “Stop projecting”.
The SpaceX CEO also linked his post to a Fox News opinion piece accusing Warren, who is white, of lying about having Native American heritage.
© AP Photo / Susan Walsh AP fileUS Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
US Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) - Sputnik International, 1920, 16.12.2021
US Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
Warren, who for years has boasted having some Native American ancestry, specifically from the Cherokee tribe, once took a DNA test, which showed that she is mostly European. However, the test also strongly "supported the existence of an admixed Native American ancestor" in the range of "6 to 10 generations ago".
As Musk tweeted that Warren reminded him of “my friend's angry Mom would just randomly yell at everyone for no reason", he flung at her a pejorative slang term used to describe angry middle-aged white women, often racist, who “weaponise” their relative privilege against people of colour.
“Please don't call the manager on me, Senator Karen,” wrote Elon Musk.
Like many ultra-wealthy heads of companies, Musk doesn't receive a paycheck, his wealth coming from stock awards and the gains in Tesla’s share price. He once tweeted: "I only have stock, thus the only way for me to pay taxes personally is to sell stock."
Through stock options, Musk takes out loans against his company’s shares to fund his Tesla projects, which he does not owe income taxes for. He also deducts some of the interest on those loans on his taxes. However, the eccentric billionaire pointed out he would face a huge tax bill this year, as he pointed out in a tweet to Warren.
Musk has been exercising stock options he was granted as part of his compensation plan in 2012. That award was for 22.8 million shares at a strike price of $6.24 per share. According to Forbes, the billionaire likely owes the federal government at least $8.3 billion for 2021, based on his stock sales of nearly $13 billion through 13 December.
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