Corporate Welfare Queen Elon Musk Joins Trump’s Business Council

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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Tech entrepreneur and electric vehicle maker Elon Musk is joining President-elect Donald Trump’s business advisory council, Reuters reported Wednesday.

The Tesla Motors chairman has been added to a group of business giants that are responsible for giving industry input on the private sector to Trump. The group contains big business tycoons such as Uber Technologies CEO Travis Kalanick and PepsiCo Chairman Indra Nooyi.

Trump announced the creation of the business advisory council in early December.

“My administration is committed to drawing on private sector expertise and cutting the government red tape that is holding back our businesses from hiring, innovating, and expanding right here in America,” the president elect said in a statement at the time.

Stephen Schwarzman, chief executive officer of investment firm Blackstone Group, who is heading the council, asked each CEO individually to participate in the forum, which will likely meet monthly. Trump and Schwarzman have never done business together.

The announcement comes in advance of a meeting chaired by investor Peter Thiel with tech industry leaders, including Musk and Silicon Valley big shots Apple CEO Tim Cook and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

Musk is a close associate of Thiel, who backed Trump during his presidential campaign. They were both founders of PayPal — and Thiel’s venture-capital firm Founders Fund also contributes millions of dollars to SpaceX, another Musk business venture.

SpaceX has been the recipient of lucrative government contracts valued at more than $6.5 billion over the past eight years, mostly to delivering cargo to NASA’s primary space station. It’s also working on securing contracts from the Air Force valued at more than $100 million.

Tesla, for its part, also receives troves of government tax credits. The electric car maker recently acquired solar panel provider SolarCity, which was founded and directed by several members of Musk’s inner circle and is propped up primarily by billions in taxpayer dollars.

Musk is sidling up to Trump at an opportune moment.

The real estate mogul turned president elect’s victory might mean the end of some federal tax subsidies for solar power and electric cars, according to a WSJ report in November.

Trump could damage Musk’s business ventures if he eliminates or refuses to renew lucrative tax credits, which are set to phase out within the next five years.

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