Socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez responded to a criticism of her from former Starbucks' CEO Howard Schultz on Wednesday by portraying herself as a victim of classism and ended up embarrassing herself.
"I respect the Democratic Party. I no longer feel affiliated because I don't know their views represent the majority of Americans. I don't think we want a 70 percent income tax in America," Schultz said in a CNBC interview on Monday. "The way I’ve come to this decision is, I believe that if I ran as a Democrat, I would have to say things that I know in my heart I do not believe, and I would have to be disingenuous."
"Why don’t people ever tell billionaires who want to run for President that they need to 'work their way up' or that 'maybe they should start with city council first'?" Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.
Ocasio-Cortez's tweet suggests that she most likely did not know about Schultz's background, which is a literal rags-to-riches story. Business Insider reported:
- Schultz was born on July 19, 1953, in Brooklyn, New York. In an interview with Bloomberg, he said growing up in the projects — "loosely described as the other side of the tracks"
- He experienced poverty at an early age. When Schultz was 7 years old, his father broke his ankle while working as a truck driver picking up and delivering diapers. At the time, his father had no health insurance or worker's compensation, and the family was left with no income.
Schultz worked various low-level jobs — including as a bartender, which was Ocasio-Cortez's previous occupation — until he landed a sales role at Xerox. Schultz left Xerox for a role at a housewares company called Hammarplast, where he worked his way up to vice president. While working at Hammarplast, Schultz discovered Starbucks and later convinced Starbucks to hire him as the director of retail operations and marketing. Several years later, Schultz bought Starbucks and eventually went on to become a self-made billionaire. That is the very definition of someone "working their way up."
Ocasio-Cortez's tweet was widely mocked by commentators and media figures, who noted its absurdity:
Later on in his interview on CNBC, Schultz addressed Ocasio-Cortez's claim that billionaires represented a policy failure and that the U.S. was "immoral" for allowing an economic system that allowed for billionaires to exist.
"It's so un-American to think that way," Schultz responded. "I'm self-made. I came from the projects and took advantage of the promise of the country. I'm living proof of the American dream."