No, The Other ‘B’ Word: Presidential Contender And Former CEO Howard Schultz Hates Being Called One Thing

Howard Schulz smiling.
Spencer Platt / Getty Images

As he gears up for a presidential run, former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz knows he should be prepared to be called every name in the book, but according to Mediaite, there’s one description that really gets under his skin: billionaire.

Despite being listed by Forbes as worth $2.9 billion dollars, Schultz would really prefer you stop referring to him that way. Those interested in being respectful of Schultz’s preferences when it comes to how he is described might consider “people of wealth” or “people of means” as less affronting ways to describe individuals rich enough to own not just basketball courts, but basketball teams. Schultz once owned the Seattle Supersonics.

“The moniker billionaire now has become the catchphrase,” Schultz said, before suggesting different ways to characterize the wealthy in light of what some would call the demonization of the ultra-wealthy by populist figures like newly-elected House Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Schultz went on to point out that “people of wealth” have indeed stacked the deck in their own favors, not only economically, but politically as well. He decried the established special interests to which most mainstream politicians are currently beholden, wealthy or not, acknowledging frankly that such individuals are able to “leverage their wealth and their interests in ways that are unfair.”

Schultz’s remarks came during an interview that was part of his recent book tour, in which he has also mused about his own presidential prospects, drawing occasional outbursts from the crowd due in part to his commitment to run not as a Democrat, but as an independent, a move that many consider a sure path to a reelection of Donald Trump in 2020.

“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,” he said recently, echoing a common mischaracterization of a proposed increase in the top marginal tax rate as informally suggested by Ocasio-Cortez.

Any proposal to increase the marginal rate would change the tax paid only on dollars earned in excess of $10 million — an individual’s first $9,999,999 in income would be taxed at lower rates. While very few Americans would be affected by such a change, Schultz would indeed likely be one of them.

Similarly, Schultz has also been critical of tax proposals aimed at the very rich floated by fellow presidential contender Senator Elizabeth Warren, whose proposal he called “ridiculous.”