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‘Lots of luck on his trip to the moon’: Biden dismisses Elon Musk’s comment about having a ‘super bad feeling’ about the economy

June 3, 2022, 7:07 PM UTC

President Joe Biden clapped back at Elon Musk for his pessimism about the U.S. economy by wishing the Tesla and SpaceX CEO good luck on his travels to the moon.

In an internal email reviewed by Reuters, Musk had told Tesla executives the carmaker needs to cut its salaried workforce by around 10% and freeze hiring, explaining he has a “super bad feeling” about the economy. 

When asked about Musk’s message Friday during a press conference, the president pointed to Tesla’s competitors that are expanding their operations and investments.

“While Elon Musk is talking about that, Ford is increasing their investment overwhelmingly,” Biden said. “Ford is increasing investment and building new electric vehicles. Six thousand new employees, union employees I might add, in the Midwest.” 

Biden quipped: “So, you know, lots of luck on his trip to the moon.”

NASA has awarded SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to build the spacecraft that will land the first woman and the first person of color on the moon as part of the agency’s Artemis program. The choice of the company’s lunar lander, Starship, was made in 2021 under the Biden administration. In March, NASA announced that SpaceX would conduct its first mission no earlier than 2025.

Musk on Friday quipped back at Biden on Twitter, writing “Thanks Mr President!” while attaching a link to the NASA announcement of SpaceX as its partner. 

This is hardly the first time Biden and Musk have taken shots at each other. After SpaceX completed the first private spaceflight with only nonprofessional astronauts on board last September, one of Musk’s Twitter followers asked: “The President of the United States has refused to even acknowledge the 4 newest American astronauts who helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars for St. Jude. What’s your theory on why that is?”

“He’s still sleeping,” Musk replied. 

Biden has also conspicuously avoided praising Tesla. In August 2021, the president signed an executive order outlining a target for zero-emissions vehicles to make up half of U.S. car sales by 2030 and invited General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler parent Stellantis to a White House event. The manufacturers all have close ties with the United Auto Workers union. Tesla, a nonunion company, wasn’t invited.

During a conference, Musk questioned the lack of an invite and accused Biden of snubbing the top U.S. electric-car maker.  

“Biden held this EV summit,” Musk said. “Didn’t mention Tesla once, and praised GM and Ford for leading the EV revolution. Does this sound maybe a little biased or something? And you know, just, it’s not the friendliest administration. Seems to be controlled by unions as far as I can tell.”

Reporters asked White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki about Tesla’s absence at the event.

“I’ll let you draw your own conclusion,” Psaki said.

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