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Howard Schultz knocks Ocasio-Cortez, Warren and Harris for ‘extreme,’ ‘punitive’ and ‘not American’ policies

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said on Jan. 29 that he believes he "can beat the system" if he decides to run for president. (Video: Reuters)
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Howard Schultz, the former Starbucks chief executive who is preparing for a presidential bid, knocked the health-care and tax policies of three of the Democratic Party’s most stalwart liberals — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala D. Harris — in a string of interviews Monday night and Tuesday morning.

During an interview Tuesday on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” Schultz, a billionaire, said that Warren’s plan for a special 2 percent annual tax on Americans whose net worth exceeds $50 million is “ridiculous.”

He accused Warren (D-Mass.) of crafting the idea to get a “good headline,” adding, “She knows for a fact it’s not ever going to be passed.”

Warren, who has launched an exploratory bid for president, fired back at Schultz on Twitter.

“What’s ‘ridiculous’ is billionaires who think they can buy the presidency to keep the system rigged for themselves while opportunity slips away for everyone else,” she wrote. “The top 0.1%, who’d pay my #UltraMillionaireTax, own about the same wealth as 90% of America. It’s time for change.”

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The exchange came just a few hours after Schultz called Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) “a bit misinformed” and pushed back on her idea of a top marginal tax rate of 70 percent.

Schultz credited Ocasio-Cortez — who has made a splash since her arrival on Capitol Hill this month — for having put a focus on issues of inequality. But he called her tax proposal “punitive” during a discussion at the launch of a book tour Monday night in New York.

Schultz also knocked the views of a policy adviser to Ocasio-Cortez as “un-American.” The adviser, Dan Riffle, has said that he considers every billionaire to be a “policy failure.”

“It’s so un-American to think that way,” Schultz said when presented with a quote from Riffle.

Saying that he grew up in a housing project, Schultz called himself “self-made” and “living proof of the American Dream.”

He said he did not know Ocasio-Cortez personally.

“There is a problem that she has identified, but I think the way she’s going about it, unfortunately, she’s a bit misinformed,” Schultz said. “The problem is we have significant inequality in the country. The problem is we have about 40 percent of American families that literally don’t have $400 for a crisis. We have roughly 5 million young people, many African American, Latino, that are not in school, not in work, and 1 of every 6 Americans are food-insecure every night.”

“So she’s identified issues that have to be fixed,” Schultz continued, adding that the solution should not be “punitive to people who have succeeded because of the foundation and the gift and the promise of the country.”

Ocasio-Cortez has suggested a top marginal tax rate of 70 percent. The tax would apply to people earning more than $10 million a year, a group whose current top rate is 37 percent.

Schultz took aim at Harris (D-Calif.), a newly minted Democratic presidential contender, during appearances Tuesday on “CBS This Morning” on “The View.”

Schultz referred to a town hall hosted Monday night by CNN in which Harris embraced a “Medicare-for-all” single-payer health insurance system and said she would be willing to end private insurance to make it happen.

“That is the kind of extreme policy that is not a policy that I agree with,” Schultz said on
“The View,” adding that doing away with private insurers would lead to major job losses.

“That’s not correct. That’s not American,” Schultz said on CBS. “What’s next? What industry are we going to abolish next? The coffee industry?”

During his appearance on “The View,” Schultz was also asked about a tweet by President Trump on Monday asserting that Schultz does not have the guts or smarts to run for president.

“I’m not responding to that childish behavior,” Schultz said.