One month after Schultz announced he was exploring an independent run for president, he's been eager to point out policy proposals he disagrees with. He's been less clear about what he would do as president.
Sen. Kamala Harris, who is running for president, wants Medicare for all. Howard Schultz does not.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is running for president, wants public colleges to be free. Howard Schultz does not.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is running for president, wants a 2 percent tax on family wealth above $50 million. Howard Schultz does not.
One month after Schultz, the billionaire former Starbucks CEO, announced that he was exploring an independent run for president, he’s been eager to point out policy proposals he disagrees with. He’s against a Green New Deal. He’s against a border wall. He’s against the Republican tax cut passed last year.
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He’s been less open about what policies he favors, what he would do as president.
He wants “comprehensive tax reform,” “common sense gun reforms,” and “common sense immigration reform.” What does any of that mean?
Schultz hasn’t been a fount of details. His office declined to answer policy questions.
“At this point, he’s not a candidate, so it’ll be a bit before he fleshes all of this out,” Erin McPeak, a Schultz spokeswoman, said.
On many issues, Schultz, who says he’s been a “lifelong Democrat” but is exploring a run as an “independent centrist,” sounds a lot like a mainstream Democrat. He supports abortion rights and Starbucks endorsed same-sex marriage in Washington state back in 2012.
On other issues he exaggerates Democrats’ positions in order to create more space between himself and the party. “Some on the far left want to ban guns altogether,” he said at Purdue University in Indiana. No prominent Democrat has endorsed banning guns altogether.
Here are his positions on some much-debated issues, sussed out from his recent speeches and public appearances.
Leaving the Paris Climate Agreement was a “tremendous mistake,” Schultz has said.
“I’m certainly concerned about the environment,” he said on Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop Podcast. “Things are changing and we are literally, as a world, on a collision course with time and we must address it, we must fix it, we must have personal responsibility.”
How? He hasn’t said.
At an event in Texas, Schultz touted the state’s production of oil and gas, but also its leadership in wind energy. “It’s not an either/or situation,” he said. “We can do both.”
Schultz wants a comprehensive immigration bill — essentially swapping increases in border security for a pathway to citizenship for immigrants who entered the country illegally. Bipartisan majorities in the U.S. Senate passed such bills under both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, but the bills were never taken up by Republicans in the House.
“For the 11 million people here unauthorized, there should be a fair and equitable way for them to get in line, pay the taxes, pay a fee and become citizens of the United States,” Schultz has said.
He also wants citizenship for “Dreamers,” young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Democrats have long pushed legislation to protect “Dreamers,” and Obama did so by executive action, but President Donald Trump has tried to revoke that protected status.
Schultz wants to “fix” — not repeal — the Affordable Care Act, but has not said what he would like to change.
He’s indicated that he would like to allow Medicare to negotiate with prescription-drug companies to lower costs.
In a CNN town hall he raised his right hand and said, “I will fix the VA.” But when asked what he would actually do to improve veterans’ health care, he said he would “put the quality people in charge” and “listen to people who are smarter than you.”
Schultz opposed last year’s Republican tax cuts, which lowered most individual tax rates and sharply decreased corporate tax rates.
“Corporations should not have been given that sweet deal without any incentive to do anything for their employees or the communities they serve,” he said.
He wants tax cuts for “the middle class and small businesses” but hasn’t said which taxes should be cut or by how much.
Schultz thinks that wealthy people, himself included, should pay more in taxes. How wealthy? How much more? He hasn’t said.
He called a 70 percent top tax rate on income over $10 million, as proposed by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, “a punitive number.”
But how much more in taxes should the wealthiest Americans be paying? Schultz was asked that question five times in a row at the CNN town hall and declined to answer. The most definitive answer he gave was that “I think” the wealthy should be paying something higher than 2 percent more than what they’re paying now.
Schultz wants to “protect people’s constitutional right to bear arms” and also wants to implement “universal and enhanced background checks with no loopholes.” That sounds a lot like a bipartisan 2013 bill, backed by Obama, that failed to pass the Senate.
Schultz has been critical of Trump, saying the president has damaged America’s relationships with foreign allies. He criticized Trump for “unilaterally deciding that we were going to pull out of Syria,” a decision that also spurred Defense Secretary James Mattis’ resignation.
“I would be on the phone with every world leader,” Schultz said, “and make sure they understand that they can trust the person in the Oval Office and have confidence that we will stand by them.”
Schultz has said China is neither an enemy nor an ally, but a “fierce competitor.” China is also Starbucks’ fastest growing market — the company has more than 3,500 stores in the country and Schultz still owns nearly $3 billion in Starbucks stock.
He has said that if he runs for president “there will be no conflict of interest of anything that has to do with Starbucks,” but he has declined to say if he would sell his shares.