Republican leaders in Congress reveled in the news of Elon Musk buying Twitter on Monday, touting the $44 billion purchase as a return to free speech with one of the world’s most dominant social platforms.
On the flip side, some Democrats were upset about Musk’s stealth acquisition, citing it as a reason for taxing billionaires even more.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee and one of the most outspoken GOP critics of Big Tech’s immense power, tweeted that “Free speech is making a comeback.”
As part of that comeback, Jordan reportedly sent a letter to Twitter’s board of directors last week, asking the group to “preserve all records related to Musk’s offer to buy the company.”
Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-N.M., congratulated Musk on his prized purchase, while tweeting she was “looking forward to a free-speech oriented twitter.”
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., tweeted: “Today is an encouraging day for freedom of speech. I am hopeful that Elon Musk will help rein in Big Tech’s history of censoring users that have a different viewpoint.”
And Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, asked his 4.8 million followers, “Is Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter a good thing?” … with the two response options being “Yes” and “No, I hate free speech.”For roughly a decade, censorship concerns had been raised by right-leaning users and media outlets, claiming that Twitter had abandoned its original intent of free speech for all.
And that rhetoric went up a few notches, after Donald Trump effectively used Twitter to bolster his messaging during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Trump defeated Democratic camdidate Hillary Clinton.
Five years later, Twitter permanently booted then-President Trump from Twitter, citing his role in the Jan. 6, 2021 unrest at the U.S. Capitol, even though the president wasn’t on-site and reportedly encouraged others to peacefully demonstrate in that area.
Other conservatives have been suspended or banned through the years, reinforcing arguments that Twitter is acting as a beacon for speech suppression.
But even during that time, those crying foul were essentially helpless to rein Twitter in — short of creating their own social platform.
And then Elon Musk happened.
For weeks, preceding his offer to buy all outstanding shares of Twitter stock at a reported $54.20 per share, Musk had been signaling to his 84 million followers of desired changes he’d like to see with the platform.
An “edit” button, for starters.
Then, after an eerie silence of a few days, Musk — also known as the world’s richest man — swooped in with a confirmed offer, an thus upsetting a number of left-leaning politicians and media personnel.
It remains to be seen what new Twitter will look like under Musk’s direction. When Twitter was launched in 2006, it promoted itself as a “public square” of free speech.
By all accounts, that could be Musk’s full intention: Going back to square one.
Among the Monday dissenters, there seemed to be a common theme among Democratic politicians, that Musk — the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX — could have spent the $44 billion in other, better ways.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., tweeted: “Just a reminder that from 2014-2018, Elon Musk paid an effective tax rate of 3.27%. The average working family pays an average tax rate of 13%. It’s time for a wealth tax in this country.”
Rep. Jesús García, D-Ill., said: “There’s so many better uses for that money, other than buying a social media company. He could help solve world hunger, could help save local newspapers, or literally help to build bridges or schools.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., tweeted: ”This deal is dangerous for our democracy. Billionaires like Elon Musk play by a different set of rules than everyone else, accumulating power for their own gain. We need a wealth tax and strong rules to hold Big Tech accountable”
And Rep. Marie Newman, D-Ill., added: “Elon Musk paid $0 in federal taxes in 2018. If he can afford Twitter, he can damn well afford to pay his fair share in taxes. We need a Billionaire Tax NOW.”
What Newman didn’t mention in that tweet: Musk reportedly paid $11 billion in taxes for fiscal 202