California lawmakers are calling activist billionaire Tom Steyer a hypocrite for supporting a $3 billion subsidy for electric vehicle owners while also campaigning to eliminate tax credits for millionaires in the state.
The state’s Senate Appropriations Committee plans a Monday hearing on the subsidy when the legislature returns from its August recess. California’s assembly has already passed the bill, which would extend the state’s subsidy program for electric vehicles.
Conservatives believe Steyer’s support for a bill they say benefits wealthy Californians above the poor reeks of hypocrisy. Republican state Sen. Andy Vidak, for instance, told reporters Monday that the measure would primarily benefit Tesla’s billionaire owner, Elon Musk, among other well-heeled friends.
“The Tesla subsidy bill that Mr. Steyer is sponsoring is literally a gift of tax funds to the billionaires who own electric car companies and the millionaires that buy these specialty cars,” said Vidak, who also believes that the wealthy environmentalist is trying his level best to wriggle his way out of being labeled a hypocrite on tax issues.
Steyer, a former hedge fund manager who supported former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for president, last week tweeted out his support for tax reform that eliminates tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.
“Cutting taxes for wealthy does not trickle down,” he wrote on Twitter Aug. 14. “We should give #NotOnePenny in tax cuts for those who don’t need it.”
An official with Steyer’s political group, NextGen, pushed back against Vidak’s position, writing in a statement that such subsidies and credits create jobs and improve the environment whereas Republican tax breaks help corporations.
“Clean energy benefits millions of Californians by creating jobs and keeping our air and water free of harmful pollution,” the official said. “We urge Mr. Vidak to drop the silly political posturing and do what’s right for California.”
The bill, if passed, could become a lifesaver for Tesla. The Silicon Valley company’s hefty $7,500 federal tax credits that Tesla customers receive for buying the company’s stable of electric vehicles could run out some time in 2018.
Federal tax credits are slated to phase out once the Tesla produces and sells 200,000 electric cars. California’s incentive program would reduce the price of an electric vehicle by as much as $10,000.
Tesla is nearly 80,000 cars away from hitting the cutoff point, so customers that are counting on a $7,500 rebate to lower the sticker price might be forced to fork over more money for the Model 3 than they initially thought.
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