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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Howard Schultz sounded stumped last week 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

Go deeper

43 mins ago - World

Biden freezes U.S. arms deals with Saudi Arabia and UAE

Trump struck several large arms deals with Mohammed bin Salman (L) and Saudi Arabia. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

The Biden administration has put on hold two big arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which were approved in the final weeks of the Trump administration, a State Department official tells Axios.

Why it matters: The sales of F-35 jets and attack drones to the UAE and a large supply of munitions to Saudi Arabia will be paused pending a review. That signals a major policy shift from the Trump era, and may herald sharp tensions with both Gulf countries.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
1 hour ago - Podcasts

Robert Downey Jr. launches VC funds to help save the planet

Robert Downey Jr. on Wednesday announced the launch of two venture capital funds focused on startups in the sustainability sector, the latest evolution of a project he launched two years ago called Footprint Collective.

Between the lines: This is a bit of life imitating art, as Downey Jr. spent 11 films portraying a character who sought to save the planet (or, in some cases, the universe).

DHS warns of "heightened threat" because of domestic extremism

Supporters of former President Trump protest inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday issued an advisory warning of a "heightened threat environment" in the U.S. because of "ideologically-motivated violent extremists."

Why it matters: DHS believes the threat of violence will persist for "weeks" following President Biden's inauguration. The extremists include those who opposed the presidential transition, people spurred by "grievances fueled by false narratives" and "anger over COVID-19 restrictions ... and police use of force[.]"

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