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Howard Schultz rips Warren’s ‘ridiculous’ plan to tax the super wealthy

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz would likely be subject to the upper echelons of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s proposed tax. | Kathy Willens/AP Photo

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz hasn’t announced whether he’ll run for president, but that didn’t stop him from taking aim at one of the key economic proposals of one of his would-be opponents.

In an interview on NPR’s “Morning Edition” aired Tuesday, Schultz, who’s considering an independent run for president, dinged liberal priorities like “Medicare for all” and tuition-free college and said Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s proposal of increasing taxes on the super wealthy was “ridiculous.”

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“Free Medicare for all, government-paid, free college for all — first of all, there’s no free. I mean nothing is free,” he said, telling NPR he sees a “dire need” for “comprehensive tax reform” to reduce the deficit, though he offered no specifics.

“There are a number of areas here that need to be addressed,” Schultz said, insisting “I’m not trying to dodge any question, but I feel like what we have today is an unfair system.”

But he argued that Warren’s “ultramillionaire” tax — which would create a 2 percent wealth tax on those with a net worth above $ 50 million and impose an additional 1 percent on net worth above $ 1 billion — was showboating.

“However, when I see Elizabeth Warren come out with a ridiculous plan of taxing wealthy people a surtax of 2 percent because it makes a good headline or sends out a tweet when she knows for a fact that’s not something that’s ever gonna be passed, this is what’s wrong,” he said. “You can’t just attack these things in a punitive way by punishing people.”

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz

Schultz, who Forbes reported has a net worth in the neighborhood of $ 3 billion, would likely be subject to the upper echelons of Warren’s proposed tax.

Warren has sought to make her name in the Democratic primary field by attacking Wall Street, although she is unlikely to be the only 2020 candidate pursuing such a tact in what is expected to be a crowded field.

Warren punched back at Schultz in a tweet, writing that “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.”

“The top 0.1%, who’d pay my #UltraMillionaireTax, own about the same wealth as 90% of America. It’s time for change,” she wrote.

When asked how he would address the country’s ballooning budget deficit, which is projected to reach $ 1 trillion in 2022, Schultz said “you haven’t talked about growth,” adding, “I don’t think you can grow your way out of $ 1 trillion.”

“But remember, I’ve been an entrepreneur for the last 40 years. I view things a little bit differently than certainly a traditional politician,” he said. “And I have a 30-year plus record of being able to solve complex problems in unique ways.”

Since saying on Sunday he might launch a third-party bid for president, Democratic operatives have trashed Schultz, arguing that his candidacy would put President Donald Trump back in the White House by drawing anti-Trump voters away from the eventual Democratic nominee.

Schultz has said that he would be a prime center-left alternative as the Democratic Party moves further left.

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