Starbucks' chairman slams GOP tax plan — here's what the coffee giant's workers have to say about his rumored political ambitions

  • Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz slammed the GOP tax plan and modern American "dysfunction." 
  • While Schultz has denied rumors of a presidential run, those who know him say that he's been interested in politics for years. 
  • Current and former Starbucks employees are split on if Schultz's values could translate into a political career. 

Starbucks' chairman and long-time CEO just gave yet another interview where it sounds like he's preparing for a career in politics. 

"So many people in America are living paycheck to paycheck. Corporate America does not need a corporate tax cut from 35 to 20%," Schultz told Andrew Ross Sorkin at the New York Time's DealBook conference. "If you're going to do that, it has to be more balanced, it has to be more common sense."


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While Schultz did not specifically address Trump beyond the GOP tax plan, the chairman also said he believed that the position of president should be one of "civility, of respect."  

"Young people in America… have been imprinted with an America that is not the same America I grew up with," Schultz said. "We are being imprinted with a level of dysfunction, polarization, vitriolic behavior that I think is not in keeping with the spirit of the country and the promise of the country."

This is just the latest in a long string of interviews, speeches, and essays that Schultz has given and written with undeniably political undertones. The executive has been dogged by rumors that he is considering a presidential run — and his comments over the last year have only added fuel to the fire. 

On Thursday, Schultz said he isn't thinking about running for president. 

"I'm not thinking about that," Schultz said. "But I'm deeply concerned about the country and the direction of the country. I'm deeply concerned about our standing in the world. And I'm deeply concerned about the millions of Americans that are not participating in the economy."

Starbucks has long been political — and that's due in large part to Schultz

In 2011, Schultz encouraged people not to donate to political campaigns until the government addressed the national debt. In 2015, he spearheaded the "Race Together" campaign to address police brutality and racism. And, last year, Schultz endorsed Clinton for president — his first time publicly endorsing a candidate.

"He always had an interest in politics and always surrounded himself" with politically minded people, a former Starbucks employee who worked closely with Schultz for close to a decade said. "But very quietly."

Schultz's connections with politics go deeper than many realize, according to two former employees. In addition to some degree of familiarity with the Bush family and President Jimmy Carter, Schultz apparently has a close relationship with the Clintons, according to one source who spoke with Business Insider.

Starbucks' current president of US retail was Bill Clinton's aide from 1997 to 2000, and Schultz emailed Hillary Clinton during the election about how to "emotionally reach and touch the American people." Clinton reportedly planned to appoint Schultz as her secretary of labor had she been elected president. If Schultz were to run for office, he would most likely turn to the Clintons for advice, according to one former employee.

"If President Clinton said he should run for office, he would do it," the ex-corporate employee said.

Starbucks employees have mixed thoughts on Schultz's rumored political aspirations

No one can judge Schultz's abilities as a leader and potential as a politician better than those who have already been under his leadership — Starbucks employees. And, while rumors are widespread, employees had a mixed view of how their boss would do as president. 

On the positives are Schultz's commitment to progressive values. 

"Though there have been months where I was barely scraping by in my time at Starbucks, I've never felt like the company genuinely doesn't care about its partners," one Starbucks employee who has worked in stores for more than four years said. "That, I feel, is maybe one of the most important qualities a politician can have, caring about people even a little, and Uncle Howard (as we affectionately refer to him) seems genuine in that regard."

"I only know what he's like as a leader: consistent, leading with heart, involving other people, listening to diverse opinions," said another former Starbucks employee who also worked closely with Schultz. 

However, others say Schultz has struggled to execute these values even at Starbucks — and that trying to bring them to a whole country would be impossible. 

"Starbucks corporate employees are not servant leaders from what I see; they are selfish leaders," one Starbucks worker said. "They don't lead by examples, they lead with excuses. Their actions speak louder than their words."

The biggest roadblock may simply be Schultz doesn't want to "ruin his life" with a presidential campaign 

The biggest question — especially from employees who have worked most closely with Schultz — isn't necessarily if Schultz would be capable. Instead, it's why he'd want to, in the words of one former Starbucks' corporate worker, "essentially ruin his life."

A presidential race would mean leaving a cushy gig as Starbucks' chairman and executing his big ideas for the brand. Instead, he would have to sacrifice his privacy and control so that he could campaign.

Schultz has major aspirations to make a difference in the US. But in 2017, becoming president isn't the only way to enact change and lead a mass of supporters.

RELATED: 10 ridiculous tax loopholes

10 ridiculous tax loopholes
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10 ridiculous tax loopholes

1. Alaskan Whaling Captain Deduction

Alaskan whaling captains can avoid tax on up to $10,000 of whaling-related expenses per year. Costs they can deduct include purchasing and maintaining the boat, weapons and gear, food and supplies for the crew, and storing and distributing the catch.

Oddly, whaling captains report these costs as a charitable deduction on their tax returns. Unless someone is authorized by the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, however, whaling is illegal in the United States.

(marchello74 via Getty Images)

2. NASCAR Track Deduction

When a business pays for capital improvements — like building a new office or buying a new machine — it typically deducts those costs over the life of the asset, which could translate into decades. A special exception exists in the tax code for “certain motorsports entertainment complex property placed into service before Jan. 1, 2017,” which refers to NASCAR tracks and other racing facilities. The exception allows businesses to deduct the costs over seven years, which is much faster than usual.

(Onfokus via Getty Images)

3. Hawaii’s Exceptional Tree Deduction

If you take care of an “exceptional tree” in Hawaii, you can deduct up to $3,000 on your state taxes of what it costs you. A local county arborist advisory committee must declare it an exceptional tree and you’ll need an affidavit from the arborist stating the tree’s type and location and what you paid to maintain it. You can take this deduction only once every three years.

(agaliza via Getty Images)

4. Florida’s Rent-a-Cow Deduction

If you live in Florida and want to pay lower property taxes — perhaps on your second home that has a lot of open land — consider renting some cows. Under greenbelt laws, if you use your land for agricultural purposes, your real estate taxes are based on the agricultural value of the land, not its market value.

This deduction doesn’t explicitly state how many cows you have to raise or even that you have to own them. Developers often let a few dozen rented cows roam their land — sometimes even during construction — to lower their property tax bills.

5. New Mexico’s Centenarian Deduction

If you live to be 100 years old, moving to New Mexico will cut your tax bill because you will pay no tax to the state. A caveat: You cannot take the deduction if you claim someone as a dependent. Paying no state income tax might not be a huge break, but if it’s available, take it.

(gece33 via Getty Images)

6. Qualified Performing Artist Deduction

If you’re searching for a tax loophole you can use — one that doesn’t benefit only the 1 percent — the IRS allows qualified performing artists to deduct certain expenses. To qualify, you must have performed for at least two different employers during the year and received at least $200 from each, had business expenses that exceeded 10 percent of your performing arts income and claimed less than $16,000 in adjusted gross income for the year. If you’re married, that $16,000 limit applies to both your spouse’s and your incomes.

(DragonImages via Getty Images)

7. Home Landscaping Deduction

If you regularly see clients at your home office, you might be able to write off a portion of your landscaping costs. The IRS allows a deduction for the portion of your home costs that are related to your home office, so as long as you use your home office exclusively for business, you might be able to take this one. If keeping your lawn looking good for your clients is part of the job, you’re in luck.

(Elenathewise via Getty Images)

8. Personal Pool Deduction

Install a pool for medical treatments and you could be in for a big tax break. One taxpayer suffering from emphysema and bronchitis was prescribed swimming by his doctor as part of his treatment, so he built a pool and wrote off a portion of the costs as a medical expense. He could deduct only the amount by which the installation cost exceeded the home’s increase in value, but he did get to include upkeep costs.

See: 19 Medical Expenses You Can Deduct From Your taxes

(ivanastar via Getty Images)

9. Body Oil Deduction

Deducting body oil on your taxes might sound downright crazy, but you might be able to. One professional bodybuilder needed to shine a little brighter during competition so he applied body oil. When tax season rolled around, he included the cost as a business expense. At first, the IRS disallowed the deduction, but the Tax Court approved because using the oil made him more competitive.

(bekisha via Getty Images)

10. Charity Meat Deduction

Meat packers, butchers and processing plants in South Carolina can earn a $75 state tax credit for each deer carcass they process and donate. You must be licensed with the state or the U.S. Department of Agriculture and you must have a contract with a qualified nonprofit that distributes food to the needy. If you use any of the deer for commercial purposes, you will not qualify for the donation.

Up NextTax Deductions 2017 — 50 Tax Write-Offs You Don’t Know About


NOW WATCH: LEAKED VIDEO: Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz tells workers Trump is 'creating chaos' that's affecting the economy

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SEE ALSO: Starbucks' Howard Schultz has been dogged by rumors about a presidential run for years — here's what baristas and other Starbucks workers think

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