Former Starbucks exec Howard Schultz rebukes Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's 2 signature policies

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, on Thursday.
  • Howard Schultz – the current Starbucks chairman emeritus, former Starbucks CEO and chairman, and potential 2020 presidential candidate – appeared at a CNN town hall on Tuesday night.
  • He took aim at two of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s signature plans: the Green New Deal and the 70% marginal tax rate on those who make more than $US10 million.
  • “Let’s be sensible about what we are suggesting,” he said. “Let’s not just throw things against the wall because it’s a good slogan or a good press release.”
  • Ocasio-Cortez responded on Twitter: “Reminder that their plan = no plan.”

Howard Schultz – the current Starbucks chairman emeritus, former Starbucks CEO and chairman, and potential 2020 presidential candidate – appeared at a CNN town hall on Tuesday night.

Schultz, who says he has not yet decided whether he will run, is trying to appeal to centrist voters and has repeatedly slammed the “far left” and the “far right.”

He specifically rebuked Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s two signature policy plans: the Green New Deal and the 70% marginal tax rate on those who make more than $US10 million.

The Green New Deal

Schultz said that he was “gravely concerned” about climate change and that it would be a “top priority” if he were elected president.

He doesn’t support the Green New Deal, however, saying it’s not feasible and too costly.

“Let’s be sensible about what we are suggesting,” he said. “Let’s not just throw things against the wall because it’s a good slogan or a good press release.”

He suggested that the infrastructure changes to make buildings more energy-efficient were not realistic, and he also called the plan too expensive.


Read more:
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez outlines legislation for a Green New Deal to turn the US carbon-neutral in 10 years

“I think it is immoral to suggest that we can tally up 20, 30, 40, 50 trillion in debt to solve a problem that can be solved in a different way,” Schultz continued.

The Green New Deal as introduced this week is a nonbinding resolution presented by Ocasio-Cortez in the House and Sen. Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, in the Senate. It is an ambitious plan that over 10 years would, among other things:

  • Swap the country’s energy sources to “clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources”
  • Update infrastructure to make it both more energy-efficient and more able to withstand the effects of climate change
  • Reduce pollution and greenhouse-gas emissions from transportation, farming, and manufacturing
  • Protect vulnerable ecosystems

It has been endorsed by presidential candidates including Sens. Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, and Elizabeth Warren.

Ocasio-Cortez said a fully fleshed-out version of legislation would be released.

In terms of payment, a FAQ for the proposal said it would be paid for the same way that other projects like wars and the original New Deal were paid for.

“The Federal Reserve can extend credit to power these projects and investments and new public banks can be created to extend credit,” the FAQ said. “There is also space for the government to take an equity stake in projects to get a return on investment.”

A rough calculation from Bloomberg says the Green New Deal would cost more than $US6 trillion.

Schultz did not lay out a specific alternative plan, but he did praise Texas for being not only a fossil-fuel producer but also the top US producer of wind energy.

“It’s not an either-or situation,” he said. “We can do both.”

The 70% marginal tax rate on those earning more than $US10 million

Asked about his tax plan, should he be elected president, Schultz called a 70% marginal tax rate “punitive.” Schultz, who is a billionaire, did say he “should be paying more taxes.”

“And people who make this kind of revenue, and are of means, should pay more taxes,” he continued.

Asked whether he had a number in mind that those making more than $US10 million should be taxed, he said “I don’t know what the number is.”

Schultz then criticised President Donald Trump’s tax plan, which lowered corporate tax rates to 21% from 35%, saying it “never should have happened.”

“Corporations should not have been given that sweet deal without any incentive to do anything for their employees of their communities they serve – education, training, whatever,” he said.

Ocasio-Cortez in January floated the idea of a 70% marginal tax rate for those making more than $US10 million. In that plan, only income above the $US10 million mark would be taxed at the 70% rate.

Schultz offered few policy details

While he laid out where he stood on issues – from climate change to taxing the wealthy – Schultz was short on policy specifics, even as the CNN moderator Poppy Harlow pressed him on this several times.

Ocasio-Cortez also took note in a response on Twitter.

“Reminder that their plan = no plan,” she said. “Why? Because for billionaires, things are already going fine.”

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