Musk’s Twitter deal calls for taxes and free speech from lawmakers

Depending on who you ask in Washington, DC, the news on Monday that of Twitter edge has accepted Elon Musk’s $ 44 billion offer to purchase the company and taking it private marks the return of free speech online or proof that billionaires like Musk have to pay higher taxes.

“Free speech is returning” tweeted Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a member of the House Judiciary Committee Rankings last week asked the Twitter board to preserve the documents relating to Musk’s offersignaling a potential investigation into whether Republicans regain control of the chamber.

“#TaxtheRich,” tweeted Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wisc.

These were the two prominent issues of lawmakers on the right and left respectively, surrounding the news of the deal. The reactions highlight how both sides view core issues in the technology sector differently, underscoring why Congress has yet to pass legislation that could have a serious impact on the industry, on topics such as digital privacy, antitrust and moderation. contents.

On the right, the optimism about “free speech” on Twitter stems from Musk’s criticisms of the platform’s content moderation practices. Musk called Twitter “the digital city square” in a statement accompanying the news release.

In an earlier public appearance after revealing his bid to buy the company, Musk said he generally prefers “time-outs” to permanent bans, which suggests there may be a path for former President Donald Trump to get back on track. platform if you wish. . Twitter banned Trump from the platform following his tweets about the January 6 uprising on the US Capitol last year. At the time, Twitter said it made the decision “due to the risk of further incitement to violence.”

“Big Tech cannot continue to silence people: they are not and should not be the arbiters of the truth”, tweeted Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., A member of the Chamber Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking, who worked on privacy bills and content moderation. “It’s time to replace Big Tech censorship with the battle of ideas and I’m hoping for a new direction for free speech on @Twitter.”

“Today is an encouraging day for free speech”, tweeted Senator Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Who introduced legislation to limit the online platform’s liability shield for content moderation. “I hope Elon Musk will help curb the Big Tech story of censoring users who have a different point of view.”

Meanwhile, many Democratic lawmakers who tweeted about Musk’s purchase focused more on his purchasing power than Twitter’s potential product impact.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, DNJ, tweeted that the $ 44 billion worth of the deal is “less than 17 percent of his estimated net worth of $ 264.6 billion. Billionaires like Musk pay lower tax rates than firefighters, teachers, and nurses. If it 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 of taxes,” Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., tweeted before the news became official.

“It is absurd that a person could afford to buy Twitter for more than $ 40 billion while working families across the country have to choose every day between buying groceries or their prescription drugs,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D -Wash., he wrote before the official announcement.

“Just to remind you that from 2014 to 2018 Elon Musk paid an effective tax rate of 3.27%,” he said. he wrote after the news of the concluded agreement. “The average working family pays an average tax rate of 13%. It’s time for a wealth tax in this country.”

Meanwhile in the White House, press secretary Jen Psaki declined to comment on the specific transaction, but said: “in general, no matter who owns or operates Twitter, the president has long been concerned about the power of large social media platforms. media, the power they have over our daily life ”.

He added that President Joe Biden has long supported reforms to hold technology platforms accountable for damages resulting from their services, including reforming section 230 of the technology legal liability shield, enacting antitrust reforms, and calling for transparency.

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