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Starbucks’ Howard Schultz: GOP Tax Plan Is ‘Fool’s Gold’ That Doesn’t Help Vulnerable Americans

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Starbucks chairman and former CEO Howard Schultz has never been one to hold back on giving his opinion about the state of the country. On Thursday, speaking at the DealBook conference in New York City, Schultz continued his outspoken streak – especially when it came to the subject of the GOP’s new tax proposal, which has suggested lowering the corporate tax rate to 20%.

“This is not tax reform. This is a tax cut. It’s fool’s gold that he wants to take the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%,” Schultz said Thursday morning. “For what purpose? Is that profit going to go back to the people who need it the most? Is that going to help half the country that doesn’t have $400 in their bank account for a crisis? No.”

READ MORE: Lessons And Ideas By The 100 Greatest Living Business Minds

Schultz didn’t stop there. “I don’t believe corporate America needs a 20% tax cut when in fact you’re not doing anything to help students, you’re taking away that benefit, and you’re [reducing] the mortgage benefit and so many people in America are living paycheck to paycheck,” he continued. “The country and American people are asking for and demanding and in great need of a more compassionate government and more compassionate society. The tax cut is not going to create a level playing field and more compassionate society.”

(For more details on the bill, which was released last week, see Forbes senior editor Kelly Erb’s breakdown here.)

When asked by an audience member what Starbucks would do with its tax cut, Schultz said first that he doesn’t think the tax proposal will pass, but then said that if it does, the majority of the savings would “not” go to corporate profits. “We will find other ways to create a contribution back to either the communities we serve, the initiatives we have with our veterans or obviously our people with benefits,” he said.

Schultz had come to the DealBook conference to discuss the role that public corporations should play in America in 2017 – a subject he is well-qualified to pontificate upon given some of his public comments and activity throughout President Trump’s first year in office. (“The moral fiber, the values, and what we as a country have stood for is literally hanging in the abyss,” Schultz told Starbucks employees in August, following Trump’s equivocating remarks about the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville. And in January, in response to the president’s attempted travel ban on immigrants and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries, Schultz and Starbucks announced a plan to hire 10,000 refugees over the next five years.)

READ MORE: 50 Minutes In The Oval Office With Citizen Trump – And Barely A Word About His Money

On Thursday, Schultz said that he doesn’t believe any company or chief executive should take a political position for vanity or personal gain. But, he continued, “I do think the rules of engagement for a public company have changed dramatically. And I think we have a moral obligation to try to raise the national discourse on the things that are not so much political, but are conversations that need to take place.”

His rhetoric and actions may resemble those of a person with political ambitions, but Schultz has repeatedly denied that he is interested in running for public office. Last year, he told Forbes that he doesn’t think government holds the answers to the issues that concern him the most. He reiterated that stance on Thursday.

“I’m not thinking about that,” Schultz said, launching into a response befitting of a politician, “but I’m deeply concerned about the country and direction of the country. I’m deeply concerned about our standing in the world, and I’m deeply concerned about Americans who are not participating in the economy.” – Written by 

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Tesla Vehicles Could Soon Become Completely Autonomous As Self-Driving Tech ‘Very Close’, Elon Musk Says

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Tesla vehicles could soon be completely autonomous as CEO Elon Musk said the electric vehicle firm is “very close” to achieving level 5 autonomous driving technology, during a virtual appearance at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai.

KEY FACTS

  • “I’m extremely confident that level 5 or essentially complete autonomy will happen and I think will happen very quickly,” Musk said.
  • He added that he is confident “basic functionality” for level 5 complete autonomy will be achieved this year.
  • The technology will allow vehicles to drive on roads without driver input.
  • Tesla, the world’s highest-valued carmaker after overtaking Toyota last week, already operates an Autopilot system that uses external cameras, radars and sensors, but it is driver assisted and does not make the vehicle autonomous.

KEY BACKGROUND

Tech firms, including Uber and Alphabet-owned Waymo, have pumped billions into developing self-driving cars, a futuristic idea that many had predicted would be ready by this year. But limitations around AI have stalled development of the technology. Last month, Waymo and Volvo announced they were teaming up to develop driverless cars for ride-hailing use.

TANGENT

In February, the National Transportation Safety Board found Tesla’s autopilot driver assistance was likely to blame for a fatal 2018 crash in California, leading to the board calling for more regulation of the technology, and for the company to better educate drivers on its limitations.

ADDITIONAL INFO

The road to completely autonomous driving has five levels: Level 0 describes no automation i.e. everyday cars. Level 1 represents features such as adaptive cruise control, while level 2 describes partial automation features that control speed and steering, such as those seen in Tesla vehicles. Level 3 and 4 represent limited driverless capabilities. Level 5 is the point at which a driverless vehicle can navigate all road conditions without human input, according to True Car.

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Elon Musk, Kim Kardashian Endorse Kanye West Running For President

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After years of hints, Kanye West formally announced he is running for president this year in a challenge to Trump, who he once supported, and Democratic rival Joe Biden, winning support from his friend and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

KEY FACTS

  • Rounding off his Fourth of July, West tweeted on Saturday night: “We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future. I am running for president of the United States! #2020VISION.”
  • Musk tweeted in response: “You have my full support!”
  • Wife Kim Kardashian also publicly pledged her support, retweeting West’s statement and adding a U.S. flag emoji.
  • West’s announcement follows years of hints that he would run for office this year which he later postponed to 2024, after publicly declaring at a Fast Company event in 2019: “When I run for president in 2024…We would create so many jobs! I’m not going to run, I’m going to walk.”
  • But the rapper, who recently inked a 10-year deal with Gap through his Yeezy brand, is reportedly yet to file any paperwork to get on state election ballots, while he has missed the deadline for states including Texas, New York, and Indiana.
  • It is not known how serious West’s intentions are this time around, however, he still has time to file as an independent candidate across most states, according to Ballotpedia.
  • West’s declaration was met with skepticism on social media, while some commentators pointed out that it could work out in Trump’s favour.

KEY BACKGROUND

West’s declaration suggests the rapper is looking to cement political ambitions he has expressed throughout Trump’s presidency. West previously forged alliances with Trump, and was pictured in the Oval Office in 2018 wearing a signature Trump ‘Make America Great Again’ cap. He once called the president his “brother” and previously hit back at criticism towards his support for Trump, likening the backlash to racial discrimination. Although he says he didn’t vote in 2016, West later said he “would have voted for Trump”, and earlier this year doubled down, suggesting he would vote for him in November. But that could very well change given Saturday’s announcement.

American rapper and producer Kanye West embraces real estate developer and US President Donald Trump in the White House’s Oval Office, Washington DC, October 11, 2018. West wears a red baseball cap that reads ‘Make America Great Again,’ Trump’s campaign slogan. (Photo by Ron Sachs/Consolidated News Pictures/Getty Images)

TANGENT

West and Musk were pictured together on July 1st, with West tweeting: “When you go to your boys [sic] house and you’re both wearing orange.”

Isabel Togoh, Forbes Staff, Business

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Quote Of The Day

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We have grown past the stage of fairy-tale. As women, we have one common front and that is to succeed. We have to take the bull by the horn and make the change happen by ourselves.

– Folorunso Alakija, Billionaire Businesswoman

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