Todd Carmichael is one of the few chief executives in America to publicly condemn Republicans’ plans to slash the corporate tax rate and rewrite the tax code.
Why bash a plan that would be a boon for his shareholders? Carmichael says he’s willing to declare what other executives won’t: the bill may be good for his business, but it’s bad for the country.
Carmichael said he defines his own success by doing right by the people around him. His primary responsibilities as the Chief Executive Officer of La Colombe Coffee Roasters are to scale up his company and make money for his shareholders; he wants to redefine how Americans drink their coffee. He said it wasn’t in his plans to be a voice for political change.
"When events started unfolding the way they did," he said, he realized, "I’m going to have to come out of the boardroom and I’m going to have to use my voice."
Carmichael’s biggest concern over the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” is that it’s giving a large tax break to corporations at a time when they don’t necessarily need it. Drawing on comparisons from the way his grandparents stockpiled goods during The Great Depression, he explains why he believes giving a tax break to corporations now is bad.
"A stimulus package is like a bunker," he said. "It's the soups and crackers and all those things that are in your basement in case something goes wrong. The fact that we're eating that for dinner is dangerous. Because in years we might need it. And it won't be there."
Though he recognizes that it’s his responsibility as a CEO to take any gains from the tax cut and pass them onto his shareholders, Carmichael strongly disagrees with the idea that those gains for investors will eventually trickle down to the American people. He said other CEOs he knows agree.
"CEOs are looking each other and going, ‘What's happening? We didn't ask for this and we know it won't work,'" he said. "And we don't have a choice ultimately either, our shareholders want that money."
It's the long-term effects that concern him most, Carmichael said.
"We realize this is going to damage the economy over time, and it puts us in a very difficult situation," he added.
Carmichael said he didn’t ask for permission from his shareholders to speak out, and that his plan is to "just keep going until someone says something."
He felt compelled to speak out, he said, to help those who want change.
“I've seen this unraveling of a country that I didn't think I lived in," Carmichael said. "I didn't think that this country just favored the rich, and just favored the affluent, or favored the white, or favored the straight. I don't want to live in a country like that. So it's up to me to either move or change it. And I'm not going to move. So I'm going to do what I can to change it."
Check out the full conversation on this week’s episode of "Uncomfortable."
Carmichael was interviewed as part of a series called 'Uncomfortable," hosted by Amna Nawaz, that offers in-depth honest conversations with influential leaders about issues dividing America.