(Bloomberg) — Elon Musk, the world’s wealthiest person, spent much of his weekend sparring with Bernie Sanders on Twitter, after the U.S. senator repeated his call for the ultra-rich to pay more tax.
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Musk even raised the notion of selling more of his Tesla Inc. shares, which would require him to pay taxes on the gains.
The 80-year-old Sanders, who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 2016 and 2020, on Saturday tweeted that “we must demand that the extremely wealthy pay their fair share.”
Musk, whose $286 billion fortune has made him a target for supporters of a wealth tax, responded: “I keep forgetting that you’re still alive.”
In a subsequent tweet early Sunday, the chief executive officer of Tesla and SpaceX, asked: “Want me to sell more stock, Bernie? Just say the word…”
Musk was still firing off tweets 11 hours later, saying Sanders “is a taker, not a maker.”
Musk offloaded almost $7 billion worth of Tesla stock over the past week, which helped to push the automaker’s shares down about 15% for the week. Musk’s stock sales began after he tweeted an unusual poll Nov. 7 on Twitter asking whether he should sell.
The poll was controversial for a host of reasons. For one, some of Musk’s transactions were carried out under a trading plan he pre-arranged in September, well before he consulted his large social media following. Musk also cast his proposal as having to do with the debate raging in the U.S. over whether billionaires are paying enough in taxes, and whether levies should be placed on unrealized capital gains.
Musk didn’t mention in his prior tweets that he had millions of stock options that must be exercised before they expire in August 2022. He said in September that he was likely to exercise “a huge block” of those options toward the end of 2021.
Read more: Seven Elon Musk Tweets That Sent Tesla Shares on a Wild Ride
In October, Musk said Tesla would move its headquarters from California to Austin, Texas, a state which levies no income tax. On Saturday, Musk tweeted that he’s been living in a small home in South Texas for the past two years. “Feels more homey to live in a small house,” he wrote.
Sanders, a Vermont independent who caucuses with Democrats, chairs the Senate Budget Committee and has long advocated for the wealthy to pay more taxes. In March, he tweeted that the amount of wealth accumulated by Musk and Amazon.com Inc. co-founder Jeff Bezos was “immoral.”
Musk also recently chided U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon and chair of the Senate Finance Committee, who had pushed for a wealth tax on billionaires.
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