US lawmakers on the right and left viewed Elon Musk’s $44 billion Twitter purchase as either the return of free speech or proof that billionaires should pay higher taxes.

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter for $44 billion is set to transform the social media platform into a privately held company, with Musk saying the social network has “tremendous potential” which he looks forward to unlocking.

The reactions to the deal on Capitol Hill have been mixed, with conservative lawmakers hailing it as a victory for free speech and Democrats more critical of the move.

“Free speech is making a comeback,” tweeted Jim Jordan, a Republican Congressman from Ohio.

“Big Tech cannot continue to silence people – they are not and should not be the arbiters of truth,” tweeted Republican Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers. “It is time to replace Big Tech censorship with the battle of ideas and I am hopeful for a new free speech direction at @Twitter.”

“This is a huge win against the woke mob and haters of free speech! I would encourage @elonmusk to immediately: - Allow all factually true and legal content to be posted – Restore the accounts of all duly elected government officials,” said Republican Congressman Jim Banks of Indiana.

Musk claims to be an outspoken advocate of free speech, a topic he addressed Monday on his Twitter account. “I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means,” he said.

He also cited its importance in a statement announcing the deal.

“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” he said.

“I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans.”

Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos, meanwhile, suggested the deal might make life difficult for Tesla in China.

Time for a wealth tax

Meanwhile, Democrats like Rep. Mark Pocan from Wisconsin were less enthused about Musk’s takeover of Twitter, tweeting: “#TaxtheRich”.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren chose to focus on Musk’s extraordinary buying power than the potential impact on Twitter.

“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,” she said.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman from New Jersey tweeted that the $44 billion value of the deal is “less than 17% of his estimated $264.6B net worth. Billionaires like Musk pay lower tax rates than firefighters, teachers, and nurses. If that sounds absurd, it’s because it is. We need a Billionaire Minimum Income Tax.”

“If they can afford to buy Twitter, they can afford to pay their fair share in taxes,” Rep. Katherine Clark from Massachusetts chimed in before the deal was official.

“It’s absurd that one person can afford to buy Twitter for more than $40 billion while working families across this country have to choose every day between buying groceries or their prescriptions drugs,” Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal from Washington said prior to the official announcement.  

“Just a reminder that from 2014-2018, Elon Musk paid an effective tax rate of 3.27%,” Jayapal stated after the news of the deal. “The average working family pays an average tax rate of 13%. It’s time for a wealth tax in this country.”

Source: TRT World