Starbucks' Howard Schultz: Cutting the corporate tax rate would be 'a mistake' without complete reform

He sat down with ABC News' Rebecca Jarvis.

October 11, 2017, 1:19 PM

— -- Starbucks' executive chairman, Howard Schultz, said lowering the U.S. corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent would “a mistake” without overhauling the entire tax system.

“You can’t have a corporate tax cut without having a transformation in complete tax reform. And if there’s going to be a corporate tax cut that is going to add to the national debt ... then I think it’s a mistake,” he told ABC News' Rebecca Jarvis.

Starbucks paid an effective tax rate of 34.3 percent in the company's fiscal third quarter.

In addition to cutting corporate tax rates, President Trump's proposed tax plan would reduce the number of personal income tax brackets from seven to three and nearly double the standard deduction for individuals and married couples. In an effort to promote his tax overhaul, Trump will give a speech today in Pennsylvania to an audience consisting mostly of truckers, whom the president said the proposed changes would benefit.

If the proposed corporate tax cuts take effect, Schultz said, employees should be the ones to benefit.

“I would hope that [businesses] would use it in ways that would advance their employees, to work what we need to do at our communities and building a better society,” he noted.

He said this is what Starbucks would do.

He also argued that corporate profits as a result of tax cuts will not “advance the economic issues of inequality in America” and cautioned that “the current level of enthusiasm and optimism that exists in the stock market today, in my view, is not a proxy for the U.S. economy.”

Schultz, who was the first in his family to graduate college, stepped down as Starbucks' CEO earlier this year, with many speculating that he would pursue a career in politics.

“I think about politics, but I have no intention of running for public office. I think about politics because I’m concerned about the need that we have for true, authentic leadership in the country,” Schultz told Jarvis.

He continued, “I feel like I’m in the best possible position right now to do the things I’m doing.”

Right now he's focused on content. His latest project is “Upstanders,” a Starbucks original series that features “ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” he explained. Schultz produced and wrote the series with Rajiv Chandrasekaran, a senior vice president of Starbucks and a former Washington Post senior editor.

Season 2 features 11 stories of people displaying acts of “courage and humanity.” Schultz believes viewers are drawn to the compassion and authenticity of the people featured in the series.

“There’s no Starbucks advertising. There’s no Starbucks placement. It’s not about marketing. It’s not about selling more coffee. It's really about just telling the American story,” Schultz said.

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