By NCPPR, Special for USADC.
Howard Schultz, the former CEO and current executive chairman of the Starbucks coffee chain, was critical of former President Barack Obama and other politicians yesterday for causing the national debt to skyrocket. This came as Justin Danhof, Esq., the Director of the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project, confronted the company’s leadership at today’s annual meeting of shareholders about Schultz’s repeated attacks on President Donald Trump’s signature tax cut ? even as Starbucks employees are reaping the benefits of that law. In response, Schultz took Washington to task ? including President Obama ? for robbing future generations with its profligate spending.
“It’s nice to see a little candor from a person who has made promoting the agenda of liberal politicians like Obama a part of his business model,” said Danhof, who attended the meeting in Seattle, Washington. “But he still bashed the tax reform that another Starbucks executive earlier credited for increased pay and new stock bonuses, paid family leave and sick-pay benefits. He still refused to show any remorse for downplaying the effects of tax reform on the company’s front-line employees.”
In his response to Danhof’s question, Schultz blamed politicians from both political parties. His public criticism of Obama, a man he endorsed for president twice, was unexpected. Schultz said: “President Obama? [is] compliant in the reckless approach to the amount of debt. And if this was a business, we’d be approaching insolvency.”
In his question, Danhof noted:
During these comments, Danhof addressed the issue of the deficit, criticizing Schultz’s liberal party-line pseudo-economic claim that tax cuts will drastically increase the deficit:
In response to Danhof, Schultz claimed a “missed opportunity” for more comprehensive tax reform.
“It seems like Howard Schultz cares more about liberal political grandstanding than the welfare of Starbucks employees,” said Danhof. “This was in stark contrast with current CEO Kevin Johnson, who told me he separates his politics from his professional duties and is committed to ‘always do the right thing for our partners, our customers and our shareholders.’ That’s a refreshing change to which we can all raise a mug.”
Additionally, Schultz tried to throw Danhof off-topic when Danhof acknowledged Schultz’s earlier joking about his treatment during an appearance at a recent event hosted by the conservative American Enterprise Institute. After Danhof said he “kinda feel[s] the same way when I come here every year ? just in reverse,” Schultz claimed Danhof “mischaracterized” his comments and that there was “nothing disrespectful about it.” Speaking about his AEI experience, however, Schultz clearly made lighthearted commentsthat might infer he didn’t expect to be treated respectfully. He said “it went fairly well, actually? No, I don’t say that with? ah? well? ,” and then smiled in response to the audience’s laughter. Danhof, to the contrary, was heckled by the crowd and interrupted by company leaders at the Starbucks meeting.
“Howard Schultz mixes politics and retailing at Starbucks, but he refuses to give the credit that the Trump Administration deserves for helping him meet his social justice goals,” said National Center Vice President David W. Almasi. “Investors were explicitly told by another executive that the Trump tax reform plan helped Starbucks increase pay and benefits for its employees, yet Schultz continues to rail against the White House. At least he had the guts to call out his fellow liberals, including Obama, for exploding our national debt.”
To book an interview with Danhof or another National Center representative, contact Judy Kent at (703) 759-0269/(703) 477-7476 or David Almasi at (703) 568-4727.
Launched in 2007, the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project focuses on shareholder activism and the confluence of big government and big business. Over the past four years alone, FEP representatives have participated in over 100 shareholder meetings ? advancing free-market ideals about health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers’ rights and other important public policy issues. As the leading voice for conservative-minded investors, FEP annually files more than 90 percent of all right-of-center shareholder resolutions. Dozens of liberal organizations, however, annually file more than 95 percent of all policy-oriented shareholder resolutions and continue to exert undue influence over corporate America.
FEP activity has been covered by media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Variety, the Associated Press, Bloomberg, Drudge Report, Business Insider, National Public Radio and SiriusXM. FEP’s work was prominently featured in Wall Street Journal writer Kimberley Strassel’s 2016 book The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech (Hachette Book Group).
Danhof’s latest commentary, on corporate backlash aimed at the National Rifle Association following the shooting massacre in Parkland, Florida, is available here.
The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 60,000 active recent contributors. Contributions are tax-deductible and may be earmarked for the Free Enterprise Project. Sign up for email updates here.