Potential independent candidate for president Howard Schultz called Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's 'Green New Deal' proposal "unrealistic" at a townhall event Tuesday night hosted and moderated by CNN. Schultz said he does not understand how you would pay for a job for everybody, free college, and Medicare for all. He said it is "not honest" to say all of these proposals are possible, however, he would not call Ocasio-Cortez disingenuous.
"Let's be sensible about what we're suggesting, let’s not just throw things against a wall because it’s a good slogan or we get a press release. Let’s be truthful," Schultz advised Democrats.
"When I see politicians start throwing things out that I know is not realistic, that is not being honest with the American people," Schultz later added.
"It's not that they're disingenuous," he said of proponents. "I think they're well-intentioned. This is not personal. I just approach things."
From CNN's townhall event:
QUESTION: Hello. So my question is, as a lifelong Houstonian, I've seen the damages that hurricanes have caused to my city, and I've watched as Harvey continued in a devastating way that damage. So in the face of a warming climate that leads to more powerful storms, how much of a priority would climate change be to your administration? And what are some plans you have to tackle that issue?
HOWARD SCHULTZ, FMR. STARBUCKS CEO: Thank you for the question. I think the concern that you have I share at the highest level.
I was -- I came to -- here to Houston during Hurricane Harvey. I went to New Orleans during Katrina. And I've seen for myself what is happening in this country and around the world.
But let's maybe bring up the topic of the day, which is the Green New Deal. I read with great interest what they were suggesting. And I think these are well-intentioned people and, like me, are gravely concerned about our planet, climate change, and the things that we have to do. So the first answer to the question is, this would be a top priority. But we have to be sensible about it.
So here we are in Texas, where...
POPPY HARLOW, CNN: Uh-huh.
SCHULTZ: ... oil and gas is a primary product of -- of this entire state. But yet you lead the nation in wind energy. So it's not an either/or situation. We can do both.
But when I read the proposed bill, in terms of the Green New Deal, and I read that in -- by 2030, they're suggesting that every building in America is -- becomes clean energy, conforms to clean energy, just to put that in perspective, because it's not realistic, that would mean that between 2,000 and 3,000 buildings a day would have to be reconstructed to conform to what they're saying.
HARLOW: So let's...
SCHULTZ: And so let's be sensible about what we're suggesting. Let's not just throw stuff against a wall because it's a good slogan or we get a press release. Let's be truthful.
And if there's one thing that I'm trying to do tonight, more than anything else, is tell you what I believe, tell you what I believe is true, and speak to you from my heart for someone who is -- who loves the country, who has benefited tremendously from the promise of the country, and wants to see that continue.
But when I see politicians start throwing things out that I know is not realistic, that is not being honest with the American people.
HARLOW: Mr. Schultz, on the Green New Deal, it includes a federal jobs guarantee.
HARLOW: Are you supportive of that? And you mentioned Democrats throwing up slogans. A number of 2020 contenders support the Green New Deal. It's proposed by Senator Markey and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Do you think that they are being disingenuous with the American people?
SCHULTZ: Uh, what I -- what I -- when I read the Green New Deal and I try and understand what they're suggesting, I don't understand how you're going to give a job for everybody, how you're going to give free college to everybody, how you're going to create clean energy throughout the country in every building of the land, and then tally this thing up with $32 trillion on Medicare for all. That's about $40 trillion, plus we are sitting, ladies and gentlemen, with $22 trillion of debt on the balance sheet of America.
So, once again, I -- not that I'm a business person or I'm -- or I'm an economist. And maybe an economist would disagree with me. But I think it's not -- it's immoral to suggest that we can tally up $20, $30, $40, $50 trillion of debt to solve a problem that could be solved in a different way.
It's not that they're disingenuous. I think they're well intentioned. It's -- this is not personal. I just don't agree this is the right way to approach things.
Watch the former Starbucks CEO share his views on climate change and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal during a CNN Town Hall with Poppy Harlow: