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Here's what Howard Schultz says about hot political topics as speculation swirls about a possible presidential run

  • Starbucks' Howard Schultz declines to say what his next step will be, but some have speculated he'll run for public office, including president.
  • During his tenure at the coffee chain, he pushed to give opportunities to veterans and refugees and expanded health benefits and college tuition assistance to workers.

It has been long speculated that outgoing Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz would run for president, but the 40-year coffee veteran isn't announcing anything yet.

Schultz, 64, is known for his active role in politics, leveraging his position at Starbucks to speak about the role public companies could play in society. During his tenure at the coffee chain, he pushed to give opportunities to veterans and refugees and expanded health benefits and college tuition assistance to workers.

"I'm very sensitive to these issues [and] ensuring the fact that we do the kind of things that restore the promise of the country and our standing around the world," Schultz said Tuesday on CNBC's "Squawk Box."

While Schultz has declined to say what his next step will be, his extensive interview touched on a number of issues that could become part of his platform if he decides to run for public office.

Here's what Schultz had to say on several hot-button issues:

Immigration

"I don't think we've got a very humane [immigration] policy. I think we need border security. But there's a lot of nontruths. As an example, two-thirds of the undocumented people were talking about are not people that have crossed a border. They're here because their visa has expired."

"Ronald Reagan in 1986 passed an immigration bill as a Republican president. So why can't we come together, move the ideology out, and do what's in the interest of American people? Seventy percent of the American people want a good immigration policy."

Trade

"We're in a trade battle here that I do not understand. Our problem is not China. Our problem is here in the U.S. We have a $21 trillion debt. We're paying $400 billion of interest. These things are unsustainable."

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz comforts and greets employees in Charleston, South Carolina in the wake of a shooting that left nine people dead at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz comforts and greets employees in Charleston, South Carolina in the wake of a shooting that left nine people dead at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

"This rhetoric about all these trade wars that are now being engaged with China, with Mexico, with Canada. And this might sound like a trite line, but it's important, we should not be in the business of building walls. We should be in the business of building bridges with our neighbors and allies. And our standing in the world today is not what it should be and we have to advance America's values around the world and we have to deal with the systemic domestic issues in the country. And that is about servant leadership. We have not had servant leadership in government in a long time where we are working in service of the American people."

Tax policy

"I was disappointed [in the GOP's tax cut bill]. Corporate America did not need a tax cut to 21 percent when we could have done so much more for the people of the country. Forty-five percent of the people in America don't have $500 in the bank for a crisis."

"What I said specifically is I did not believe that the majority of companies in America were going to take a corporate tax cut from 35 percent to 21 percent and do all the things the administration was spewing about, in terms of advancing the economy and creating jobs and doing all these great things. And I said most companies were going to give it back to the shareholders. What we decided to do was almost 50 percent of the benefit, we gave to our people. I didn't give credit to the administration for that. I gave credit to the fact the leadership of Starbucks did the right thing. And that is, success is best when it's shared."

The economy and the stock market

"First off, I think it's very wrong to use the stock market as a proxy for the U.S. economy. Interest rates are going up. If I had to make a bet, and I'm not an economist, I don't believe that the stock market is going to continue to grow at the level it has between now and 2020. You're going to see change. So, listen, the economy is strong. I give President [Barack] Obama credit for that. I give President [Donald] Trump some credit for that."

The debt

"I think the greatest threat domestically to the country is this $21 trillion debt hanging over the cloud of America and future generations."

Gun control

"Seventy percent of the American people want the kind of policy legislation that takes the guns of war out of the American peoples' neighborhoods."

The national budget

"We have a budget process that is broken."

"We haven't had a balanced budget since President [Bill] Clinton. Think about that."

Veterans affairs

"We've got a situation with veterans in which we talk about taking care of veterans, but then the VA doesn't work."