Former Starbucks CEO and former “lifelong Democrat” Howard Schultz blamed Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren for his decision to run for president as an independent.
In a series of recent interviews, Schultz said that Democrats are embracing “un-American” policies that target billionaires, which he happens to be. At a Monday night event for his book launch, he specifically called out Ocasio-Cortez’s informal proposal to tax America’s hyper-rich at a 70 percent marginal rate.
“I respect the Democratic Party. I no longer feel affiliated because I don't know their views represent the majority of Americans. I don't think we want a 70 percent income tax in America,” Schultz said, although he mischaracterized Ocasio-Cortez’s idea. She’s proposing a marginal tax on income over $10 million, which would affect only a tiny fraction of America’s most wealthy.
Schultz, who endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016 and previously described himself as a “lifelong Democrat,” attempted to dismiss Ocasio-Cortez as a “bit misinformed.” Recent polls indicate a majority of Americans support Ocasio-Cortez’s idea, which was U.S. tax law until Ronald Reagan became president and cut taxes. Ocasio-Cortez said last week that a “system that allows billionaires to exist” is immoral.
Ocasio-Cortez responded to Schultz’s critiques of her by pondering why nobody ever tells billionaires seeking high office to work their way up or “start with City Council first.” A few anonymous Democrats told the Hill this week that they were seeking candidates to primary Ocasio-Cortez because she ascended too quickly.
He also singled out Elizabeth Warren’s proposed “ultra-millionaire” tax that economists say would generate trillions in revenue over a decade by taxing the wealth of America’s richest. He said Warren’s plan was “ridiculous” and would never get passed.
Warren fired back and implied that Schultz wanted to buy the presidency to keep the system rigged” for himself and other billionaires.
Schultz also attacked Medicare for All, a policy idea that’s been widely embraced by 2020 Democratic candidates that would guarantee health coverage to all Americans but could abolish the private insurance industry.
“That’s not correct. That’s not American,” Schultz said Tuesday on CBS. “What’s next? What industry are we going to abolish next? The coffee industry?”
Last week, Schultz announced he is “seriously considering” running for president as a “centrist independent,” sparking a backlash among Democrats fearing he’d take votes from them and contribute to a Trump re-election. Many have also attacked his billionaire status: During his press tour, Schultz revealed that he has no idea how much a box of cereal costs.
Cover: Howard Schultz seen on day one of Summit LA18 in Downtown Los Angeles on Sunday, Nov. 2, 2018, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)