Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) responded on Wednesday to criticism of her tax proposal by former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz with this sharp question: “Why don’t people ever tell billionaires who want to run for President that they need to ‘work their way up’ or that ‘maybe they should start with city council first’?”
Schultz, who has never held elective office, announced this past Sunday that he is “seriously considering” a 2020 run for president.
Ocasio-Cortez famously was a bartender when she began her run for Congress. But there are major differences between being one of 435 representatives in the House and being the one and only president.
On Monday, Schultz told CNBC that if he runs, it will be “as a centrist independent outside of the two-party system” because he doesn’t “feel affiliated” with the Democratic Party anymore and doesn’t want a top marginal income tax rate of 70 percent in America.
“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.
Schultz added that he thinks if he ran as a Democrat, he “would have to say things that I know in my heart I do not believe and I would have to be disingenuous.”
The “70 percent income tax” comment refers to Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal to increase taxes on the very wealthy. Her plan would raise the marginal tax rate to 70 percent only on income over $10 million a year. She argues that the revenue created by this plan would pay for a Green New Deal to address economic inequality and climate change.
Ocasio-Cortez repeatedly calls out the super-rich and their claims about the risks of raising taxes. After a journalist watching the yearly gathering of the ultra-rich and powerful in Davos, Switzerland, said a “room full of billionaires laughed tauntingly” at her 70 percent proposal, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted: “Is it getting hot in here, or just the elevating public consciousness around rampant wealth inequality?”