Thursday, January 31, 2019

Empty Suit Throws Hat Into Ring

Has any political candidate ever been more of a non-entity that Howard Schultz?

Who does he think his constituency is? I consider myself reasonably well-informed, but until he announced his mindless quixotic presidential bid, I had no idea who he was. I had never heard the name Howard Schultz. Why would he think he could make the slightest ripple in the 2020 campaign?

Oh, right. Because he's a billionaire, so the media will fall all over themselves to build him up into some kind of legitimate statesman.

But seriously, he doesn't even have a platform. He has zero ideas of what he would want to do as president other than not tax billionaires.

Here's something he actually said on 60 Minutes as if it were a selling point:

 I don't care if you're a Democrat, independent, Libertarian, Republican. Bring me your ideas, and I will be an independent person who will embrace those ideas because I am not in any way in bed with a party.

So, I'm running for president - just tell me what you think would be good and I'll run with it! Even if your idea is the worst Libertarian drivel, I'm all ears!

He does, apparently, believe in something he calls "comprehensive tax reform," by which he means. . . you know, tax reform that is comprehensive.

Via NPR:

INSKEEP: President Obama's theory was that you reduce the deficit in small measure by raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. President Trump's theory was that you reduce the deficit by cutting taxes on the wealthiest Americans. You're smiling. Which, if either of those, is true?

SCHULTZ: Can I say it in my own words?

INSKEEP: Please.

SCHULTZ: So we are in dire need of comprehensive tax reform, which would include a significant level of infrastructure developments.

INSKEEP: Is it safe to say that the wealthiest would have to pay more? Whatever the rates become, however the reform is structured?

SCHULTZ: What I would say is that we need comprehensive tax reform.

So he either doesn't know, or doesn't want to say, whether marginal tax rates would go up or down under his "reform," but rest assured, this "reform" is exactly what America so desperately needs at this time.

SCHULTZ: . . . I think there are a number of areas here that need to be addressed. And I'm not trying to dodge any question. I just feel like, you know, what we have today is an unfair system. 

Unfair in what way? Well, why does that matter? Look, whether you think that your tax burden is too high or too low, whether or not you think the wealthy and the corporations should be paying more or less, none of that matters. Because REFORM! COMPREHENSIVE!

. . . what we have today is an unfair system. However, when I see Elizabeth Warren come out with, you know, a ridiculous plan of taxing wealthy people a surtax of 2 percent 

You're right, Howard. 2% is ridiculous. Anything less than 10% is insufficient!

However, when I see Elizabeth Warren come out with, you know, a ridiculous plan of taxing wealthy people a surtax of 2 percent because it makes a good headline - or sends out a tweet when she knows for a fact that's it's not something that's ever going to be passed, this is what's wrong. 

Okay. Good. Now we're getting somewhere. We've identified the problem and that's a start. The problem with the United States tax code is. . . Elizabeth Warren tweeting! Wait. Are yiu sure aboiut that?

INSKEEP: But I'm just thinking, you've got trillion-dollar annual deficits now in good times. Getting that down calls for some specific, painful-sounding things - drastic cut in military spending, at a time when the United States is confronting China and Russia and who knows who else, changes to Medicare and Social Security, tax increases on somebody. Are you going to do that?

SCHULTZ: Well, you haven't talked about growth. So...

INSKEEP: You think you can grow your way out of a trillion-dollar deficit?

SCHULTZ: I don't think you can - no. No. I don't think you can grow your way out of a trillion dollars. 
Oh my God, then why did you bring it up?

But I - remember, I've been an entrepreneur for the last 40 years. I view things a little bit differently than, certainly, a traditional politician. And I have a 30-year-plus record of being able to solve complex problems in unique ways.

Oh for fuck sake. Maybe, MAYBE, you could have trotted this out prior to 2016. Maybe. Bur America has had two years now to see what happens when you elect a "billionaire" businessman with zero political experience to the highest office in the land. And I don't want to speak out of turn here, but we ain't too happy.

Also, that's your pitch? Imagine being two years into the tRump administration and thinking "Now's the time America is ready to gamble on an outsider businessman!"

You know, it seems like every election cycle there's at least one. There was Ross Perot, there was Steve Forbes, There was Hermann Cain, and Carly Fiorinna. And none of them came close, except Orange Julius Caesar who was the most famous businessman in the world and also a reality TV star that for some reason a lot of people found charismatic. (I will never understand why) But sure, the guy who used to run Starbucks, who is nowhere near a household name, and has zero charisma is the perfect candidate to win as a third party candidate!

Especially with specific, precise policy goals like this:

Oh, opportunities! Oh my God, I think you're on to something! No political candidate has ever offered vague, nebulous promises of "opportunity" before! in 2020, when you've got the candidate on one side of you shouting "Vote for me if you hate Mexicans and Muslims" and the other promising to give you a pay raise and let you go to the doctor when you're sick without losing your house, voters are sure to be drawn to the guy in the middle saying "ahem, I believe Americans should have opportunities."
Yeah, forget "policies and promises!" Those things don't help anyone. What we need is the amorphous gossamer of "OPPORTUNITIES!"

Also, I'm not sure Schultz really understand how American elections work.

Here he is on CBS This Morning:

"I think Republicans are looking for a home. If Republicans have a choice between a far left liberal progressive candidate on the Democratic side or President Trump, President Trump is going to get reelected.

Well, yeah. That would be true, if only Republicans voted. If you offer Republicans a choice between tRump and a progressive Democrat, of COURSE tRump would win. But, it may surprise you to learn that, desoite Republicans' best efforts, Democrats and Independents and Green Party and Libertarians and DSA are all allowed to vote in our elections. And according to the Washington Post:

More Americans now identify as independents than as members of either political party, according to June data from Gallup. In fact, only about a quarter of the country identifies as Republican, and about 3 in 10 identify as Democrats.
So, yes. In a two-candidate race in which one candidate is a Republican and the other is a Democrat, the Republican candidate would win the votes of that quarter of the electorate. Not sure how many of them would be peeled away by a moderate centrist who, up until 10 minutes ago, was a lifelong Democrat.

"We will be on the ballot in every state, all 50 states. And this is so vitally important. In the last presidential elections the only thing that matters is about eight states, battleground states that define the race, if I enter the race I'll be on the ballot of every state in all 50 states. Everyone's voice would matter."

Oh my God. Does he think that the reason the battleground states are so important is that major party candidates are not on the ballot in every state? Does he think that Hillary won in California because Trump wasn't on the CA ballot? Or that had there been another CEO douchebag on the ballot in California, that she wouldn't have won there?

Either way, the "battleground" states will still be the "battleground states." California  and New York will go Blue, Alabama an Mississippi will go Red whether any third party candidate is on the ballot or not. And Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, etc will still be the states that are up for grabs.And those swing states would be the only states where Schultz could possibly hope to make any kind of a difference.  Is Schultz the only person in America who doesn't get this?

He also doesn't seem to understand the Democratic Party.

"I'm not a Democrat," Schultz told the 'Morning Joe' panel. "I don't affiliate myself with the Democrat Party who is so far left, who basically wants the government to take over health care, which we cannot afford, the government to give free college to everybody and the government to give everyone a job, which basically is $40 trillion on the balance sheet of $21.5 trillion. We can't afford it."

First of all, how many Democrats are pushing for single-payer healthcare? Last I heard, only about 1/3 of Senate Democrats were on board. Also, we absolutely can afford it. Why do you think Canada can but we can't. How come the U.K. can but we can't? Is this guy really so dense that he doesn't understand how Medicare-for-All would be funded? Maybe. Because here's what he had to say on the subject in his NPR interview:

SCHULTZ: Free Medicare for all, government-paid, free college for all - first of all, there's no free. I mean nothing is free.

Yeah. We know that. We're not stupid. We get that single-payer would be paid for with our tax dollars. We get it. We understand that, instead of having money taken out of our paycheck by Aetna or Blue Shield, we would have money taken out of our paycheck by Medicare. The difference is, we'd get a much better product.

And, I don't know whether Howard Schultz knows this, but state colleges used to be tuition-free. At least they were ion California. Before they elected Reagan governor.

Scrubs Mistake GIF - Scrubs Mistake Opera GIFs

(Joke stolen from Dana Gould)

So, this "raidcal" "leftist" idea of tuition-free college, is actually pretty retrp. It has been done and could certainly be done again. In fact, Bernie Sanders has aplan to pay for state colleges with a transaction tax on Wall Street. It would be pretty much completely painless for John Q. Taxpayer.

So, in conclusion, Howard Schultz has no ideas, no platform, and no policies. And he doesn't understand the Electoral College, how things get paid for, his opposition, or the zeitgeist.

Sure, Howard.
Sure ya are.