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4. A brief list of better questions for billionaire presidential candidates

Photo illustration of a question mark with a cheerio instead of a dot at the end
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Howard Schultz sounded stumped today when asked the price of a staple that wasn’t coffee — a reminder of the campaign-trail hazards for billionaires trying to project a common touch.

What happened: Mika Brzezinski asked Schultz on MSNBC's "Morning Joe": “How much does an 18 ounce box of Cheerios cost?" Schultz responded: "An 18 ounce box of Cheerios? I don’t eat Cheerios." Spoiler: They're about 4 bucks at Walmart.

Flashbacks:

The big picture: Billionaires may be unlikely to know what a grocery item costs, and their actions as president would have limited effects on prices.But they should know the broader trends in the costs that most Americans face.

  1. Health care: How much has the average health insurance deductible for a family of four changed over the past 5 years? How about copays?
  2. Education: What's the average price of tuition at a public 4-year university? How much has this outpaced inflation over the past few decades?
  3. Kids: What's the average cost of child care in your home state? Is this a greater share of take-home income than it was 10 years ago? 20?
  4. The youths: What percentage of 25-year-olds have more than $50,000 in student debt? What percentage of 25-year-olds have purchased a home? How do these compare to 10 years ago?
  5. Housing: How much of the average American's monthly paycheck goes to rent or a mortgage?
  6. Rainy day funds: How many months of living expenses does the average American have in liquid savings?

Why it matters: “[T]he next president will have to demonstrate not only that he or she understands the day-to-day struggles that people are facing, but they also have to lay out a clear plan to address those problems," Center for American Progress SVP Daniella Gibbs Léger told Axios.Go deeper: Livid liberals try to bully Schultz out of 2020