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How Howard Schultz Wins The Presidency For $30 Million

Jun. 18, 2018 8:57 AM ET31 Comments
Laurence Kotlikoff profile picture
Laurence Kotlikoff


  • Howard Schultz, former head of Starbucks, knows how to seize opportunity.
  • Running for President in 2020, as a third-party candidate, would attract a growing number of voters who have given up on both parties.
  • Two moderate third parties that are shopping for a 2020 Presidential candidate. A scant $30 million could get a third party's candidate on the 2020 Presidential ballot across the country.
  • I offer a 10-point guide to the kind of economic policies a reform-oriented moderate party could base its candidacy on.

Howard Schultz knows how to build something from scratch. He grew up poor and ended up a billionaire by transforming Starbucks into an international business phenomenon. Now, 65, he's ready for Act II -- not building another great business, but fixing a great nation.

Schultz, who just stepped down from Starbucks, is purportedly considering a 2020 Presidential run. That's great news. The question, though, is how to run when gaining the Republican or Democratic nomination requires catering to the far right or the far left, which dominate their parties' primaries and which would block needed reforms.

The best option for Schultz is running as the candidate of a moderate, third-party. The Modern Whigs and The Serve America Movement are two such parties. Both are shopping for two things -- $30 million to get on the 2020 Presidential ballot nationwide and a Presidential candidate with a big enough wallet to meet the press' financial litmus test. The two parties can be merged into The Independence Party. Some 42 percent of voters currently declare themselves independents. Another large share of voters, possibly 30 percent, are neither diehard Democrats nor diehard Republicans. And two-thirds of millennials say they want a third party.

What kind of economic policies would a reform-oriented moderate party base its candidacy on? Here's my 10-point CliffsNotes guide. See this free book for details.

1. Equalizing Education -- Pre-K for all and half-day, uniform, 4th-12th grade online education, effectively moving to class sizes of 1. High-speed internet in all schools and free laptops for all children.

2. Universal Healthcare -- Enroll the entire population in Medicare Part C and adjust the system's coverages through time to keep costs at a fixed share of GDP.

3. Fix Taxes -- Switch to a progressive personal consumption taxation combined with a VAT and a progressive payroll

This article was written by

Laurence Kotlikoff profile picture
Laurence J. Kotlikoff is a William Fairfield Warren Professor at Boston University, a Professor of Economics at Boston University, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the Econometric Society, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, Head of International Department for Fiscal Sustainability Studies, the Gaidar Institute, President of Economic Security Planning, Inc., a company specializing in financial planning software, and the Director of the Fiscal Analysis Center. Professor Kotlikoff is a NY Times Best Selling author and an active columnist. His columns and blogs have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, the Boston Globe, Bloomberg, Forbes, Vox, The Economist, Yahoo.com, Huffington Post and other major publications. In addition, he is a frequent guest on major television and radio stations. In 2014, he was named by The Economist as one of the world's 25 most influential economists. In 2015 he was name one of the 50 most influential people in Aging by Next Avenue. Professor Kotlikoff received his B.A. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1973 and his Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University in 1977. From 1977 through 1983 he served on the faculties of economics of the University of California, Los Angeles and Yale University. In 1981-82 Professor Kotlikoff was a Senior Economist with the President's Council of Economic Advisers. Professor Kotlikoff is author or co-author of 19 books and hundreds of professional journal articles. His most recent book, Get What's Yours -- the Secrets of Maxing Out Your Social Security Benefits (co-authored with Philip Moeller and Paul Solman, Simon & Schuster) is a runaway New York Times Best Seller. His other recent books are The Clash of Generations (co-authored with Scott Burns, MIT Press), The Economic Consequences of the Vickers Commission (Civitas), Jimmy Stewart Is Dead (John Wiley & Sons), Spend ‘Til the End, (co-authored with Scott Burns, Simon & Schuster), The Healthcare Fix (MIT Press), The Coming Generational Storm (co-authored with Scott Burns, MIT Press), and Generational Policy (MIT Press). Through his company, Professor Kotlikoff has designed the nation's top-ranked personal financial planning software and Social Security lifetime benefit maximization software. Professor Kotlikoff has served as a consultant to the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Harvard Institute for International Development, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Swedish Ministry of Finance, the Norwegian Ministry of Finance, the Bank of Italy, the Bank of Japan, the Bank of England, the Government of Russia, the Government of Ukraine, the Government of Bolivia, the Government of Bulgaria, the Treasury of New Zealand, the Office of Management and Budget, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Labor, the Joint Committee on Taxation, The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, The American Council of Life Insurance, Merrill Lynch, Fidelity Investments, AT&T, AON Corp., and other major U.S. corporations. He has provided expert testimony on numerous occasions to committees of Congress including the Senate Finance Committee, the House Ways and Means Committee, and the Joint Economic Committee.

Analyst’s Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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Comments (31)

Laurence Kotlikoff profile picture
An intelligent, can-do, moral businesswoman or man right now would be a major relief.

But, I hear you. best, Larry
the last thing the country needs is another CEO with delusions of grandeur, even if slightly more housebroken than the current fascist.
Mac Timred profile picture
This article has no business being on SA.
Laurence Kotlikoff profile picture
I hear you. Will stay off politics in the future. best, Larry
What does ? Propaganda pieces put out by the think tanks ? Or put out by those auditioning for the job of political spinner ? If the market outlook will predominately be determined by politics, a range of views can only help.
Just an observation based on voting over the past 20 or so presidential elections. People get enough of a certain administration no matter how successful. They also tire of experiments rather early on when they vary from expectations. Even at this point, there is evidence that the edgy businessman that seems to appeal to everyone's interest on one issue or another, seems to be wearing thin. If Schultz has an agenda, I recommend he play puppet master on the order of Mark Hanna.
Pure Fantasy.
Laurence Kotlikoff profile picture
Please check out www.purpleplans.org and remember that this is America - everything is possible, even Donald Trump.

Stay young.
regarding "pure fantasy"...

We have already learned the hard way that desperation apparently drives men to do incredibly irrational things. The sad part about the next election is that social media and online channels will be no more secure for the next election than for the last election. It only takes one campaign of misinformation to ruin the minds of simple people. No matter who runs next time, the circus will continue.
IndyDoc1 profile picture
Having a Medicare part C without reforming how health care is delivered is a fantasy. Currently, our health care costs twice as much as any industrialized nation and under delivers to significant percentage of the population.
Laurence Kotlikoff profile picture
I agree fully, but this plan (see www.purpleplans.org) would produce enormous competition among providers. I would also have the Medicare system buy drugs from the industry and exert its buying power.

best, Larry
IndyDoc1 profile picture
Thanks Larry for your reply!
MyStockVault profile picture
Personally, I don't really pay attention. History has proven that no matter who runs and who wins, the stock market just seems to chug higher over the long-run. America "the economic system" just seems to work for investors and entrepreneurs.
perplexedtex profile picture
50 % of the folks in the country could be good presidents. We've been lead to believe by
bureaucrats, media and politicians that you need to be a senator or general. Not true. We need more normal folks in government and courts.
Laurence Kotlikoff profile picture
Ditto. best, Larry
john.fAIrplay profile picture
Where are the moderate platform planks? There's quite a bit of nutty "make government an even bigger part of your life" stuff that has insignificant support.
Laurence Kotlikoff profile picture

Actually, I phase out SS and replace it with a fully, funded, but computer-run private saving system. I also cover everyone re a basic health insurance policy, but limit the cost to a fixed share of GDP. So this plan has dramatically less spending into the future.

best, Larry
Left out is a an infrastructure spending plan. Catching up to the developed world might take 25 percent of GDP over some years (edited). It'll pay for itself in greater productivity so hard to imagine anyone would oppose it.
Laurence Kotlikoff profile picture
Hi Doug,

I agree. We probably need to invest $1 trillion on infrastructure over the next 5 to 10 years. best, Larry
Agree with all but trade. The dollar can no longer be the reserve currency. I don't know how that comes about. Eggs may get broken.
rhythmbreakdown2 profile picture
Dream on. Wish this was not on SA.
slogan would be: a latte in every pot. or maybe more with the times: a latte with your pot
Good luck running on that platform... 👍🏼
phelipe profile picture
In other words, Bernie Sanders Socialism!
Another oligarch thirsty to bleed the country. Whoops , I meant 'serve the country'.
Buyandhold 2012 profile picture
There are 13 people that I would never vote for for POTUS.

1) Kathy Griffin
2) Chelsea Handler
3) Chelsea Clinton
4) Al Gore
5) Oprah Winfrey
6) Donald Trump
7) Al Sharpton
8) Howard Schultz
9) Bill De Blasio
10) Rachel Maddow
11)Michael Bloomberg
12) Ashley Judd
13) George Soros

And there are 13 people that I would consider voting for for POTUS.

1)Judith Sheindlin
2) Warren Buffett
3) Charlie Munger
4)Mark Cuban
5) Barbara Corcoran
6) Jamie Dimon
7) Laurence Fink
8) Ray Dalio
9) Lloyd Blankfein
10) Marcus Lemonis
11) Tilman Fertita
12) Jeanine Pirro
13) Sofia Vergara
pearls before swine profile picture

I remember something Milton Friedman said. Roughly, "The true burden of government, is not the tax level but the spending level."

Under your proposals, how large--that is, what portion of the economy would the Federal, State, and Local governments be involved in (include mandates)? Would it be larger or smaller than it currently is?
Laurence Kotlikoff profile picture
Far smaller over time. Higher in the short run. The country has to cut its spending path. Otherwise, we're cooked. Our fiscal gap is $196 trillion! That's our true debt with everything on the table.

best, Larry
astute pathways profile picture
I did not know he was running for president...If Oprah runs,i think she could beat anyone
Laurence Kotlikoff profile picture
Apparently, he's thinking of running. Please help spread this column. thanks, Larry
I think he needs to run as a centrist Democrat to avoid splitting the votes too much and sticking the country with another 4 plus years of the Trump/Putin regime.

I like a lot of Laurence’s ideas and think he should join the Schultz ticket as Vice President
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