In an age of crony capitalism, billionaire Elon Musk has often been called a “triple dipper.” He has used federal stimulus funds, handouts and giveaways to get rich, most famously on Tesla, his electronic car company. In fact, Tesla, makes the bulk of its money not by revenues from car sales but through the sale of emissions permits and subsidies from the government.
Musk’s Solar City develops solar power projects thanks, in part to a generous subsidy program from the government known as 1603 and a growing list of government clients ranging from local cities to the Veterans Administration (VA) that cared more about being green than taking care of those who served our nation. Let’s not forget that the Department of the Treasury is investigating whether SolarCity overstated the fair-market value of its solar projects in order to receive more in subsidies.
If three times is the charm, Musk’s latest focus is SpaceX, the Space Exploration Technologies Corp. SpaceX builds rockets that help launch satellites and other cargo into space and has received over $1 billion in contracts from NASA and $243 million in contracts from the Air Force.
But like any enterprise that cannot stand without the support of government, there is trouble in paradise. Two U.S. Reps. Mike Coffman and Cory Gardner are publicly calling for NASA to make public any information about “an epidemic of anomalies that have occurred during SpaceX launches or launch attempts.”
The joint letter notes frequent delays of some launches and “[b]ecause the development of the vehicles and capsule in question were funded by NASA dollars, we request that you provide Congress with the information you have on the various aspects of risk and reliability from these programs, including contractual, management, technical, manufacturing, cost, schedule and safety,” they wrote.
Gardner and Coffman’s letter calls out those launch delays and that NASA extended the timeline for SpaceX’s ISS resupply launches by two years. SpaceX has fallen short of its overall launch schedule of 24 missions with the Falcon 9, having launched seven missions with the rocket to date, the congressmen say.
The letter also questions why NASA has told previous congressional inquiries that SpaceX would be the one to provide technical information about flight anomalies.
Musk has become an old hand at seeking handouts from the government. In fact, Musk has literally become a billionaire off the backs of the taxpayers. If Republicans are ever going to become the party of free markets again, the free-riders like Musk must be thrown overboard.