Sunday, October 13, 2013
Starbucks coffee now comes with a tall order of politics
Starbucks coffee now comes with a tall order of politics
The Come Together petition calls on Washington to 'pay our debts on time' and pass 'budget deal by the end of the year.' But the message may be equally directed at the American public
Could a message on a coffee cup have any sway in Washington? Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is betting on it, urging all customers to join the company’s Come Together petition.
The petition, which was announced yesterday and emailed to number of Starbucks patrons early today, calls on those in Washington to come together and “reopen or government to serve the people, pay our debts on time to avoid another financial crisis [and] pass a bipartisan and comprehensive long-term budget deal by the end of the year.”
On the ninth day of the shutdown, the company began offering a free tall drink for any customer that bought one for someone else. The Come Together promotional deal, which ends today, was meant to “bring us all a little closer at a time when showing our unity is so important.”
This is not the first time that Schultz has attempted to influence US lawmakers with message of togetherness. The Come Together campaign was first launched during the 2012 debt ceiling negotiations, when for three days baristas throughout Washington DC wrote “come together” on customers’ cups. (Or, as the Guardian then dubbed them, fiscal cliffuccinos.)
“Rather than be bystanders, we have an opportunity – and I believe a responsibility – to use our company’s scale for good by sending a respectful and optimistic message to our elected officials to come together and reach common ground on this important issue,” said Schultz in 2012.
During the summer of 2011, Schultz also started a campaign for the "Create Jobs for USA Fund," selling red, white and blue woven bracelets with metal clips that read "indivisible."
Schultz did more than send an optimistic message to US lawmakers, however. He sent a message that also hurt congressional campaign coffers. Two weeks after President Obama and Congress reached the debt ceiling deal of 2011, Schultz organized a boycott, calling on other CEOs to withhold political contributions in order to get lawmakers to come up with a long-term debt deal.
Schultz was convinced that withholding financial support would force “elected leaders to face the nation’s long-term fiscal challenges with civility, honesty, and a willingness to sacrifice their own re-election. This means not kicking the can anymore. It means reaching a deal on debt, revenue, and spending long before the deadline arrives this fall. It means considering all options, from entitlement programs to taxes.”
The 2011 boycott was not without followers. Schultz was joined by around 100 of other leaders within the business community – among them CEOs of companies such as J Crew, AOL and JC Penney. Yet two years later, he is again attempting to sway the lawmakers with messages on coffee cups.
If threatening to withhold campaign contributions didn’t inspire lawmakers to come up with a long-term fiscal solution for the country, many might find it hard to see why coffee cups will.
Schultz might be onto something, however. As the shutdown standoff has crept into its 11th day, business groups feel that they have lost sway over the lawmakers they helped put into office with their campaign donations.
Texas Representative Randy Neugebauer, who has received number of donations from Wall Street, told the New York Times that if US businesses want to send their money elsewhere, they should.
“We have got to quit worrying about the next election, and start worrying about the country,” he said.
For those in Washington who do worry about the next elections, looking to Americans does not provide any clearer path forward. An NBC poll showed this week that the majority of Americans would vote Congress out of office.
Maybe Schultz has a point. Maybe Starbucks’s message to "come together" is as much for the public as for the US lawmakers.
George Soros was a supporter for America Coming Together, a contributor for the American Bridge 21st Century, a contributor for MoveOn.org, a supporter for the Center for American Progress, and is the chairman for the Foundation to Promote Open Society.
Note: Foundation to Promote Open Society was a funder for the Center for American Progress, Media Matters, the Robin Hood Foundation, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (think tank), and the Brookings Institution (think tank).
Peter B. Lewis was a supporter for America Coming Together, a contributor for the American Bridge 21st Century, is a contributor for MoveOn.org, a director at the Center for American Progress, and a donor at Media Matters.
Schultz Family Foundation was a funder for the Robin Hood Foundation.
Howard D. Schultz is a trustee at the Schultz Family Foundation, the chairman & president & CEO for the Starbucks Corporation, and was a director at the DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc.
William W. Bradley is a director at Starbucks Corporation, a trustee at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (think tank), and Mellody L. Hobson’s mentor.
Mellody L. Hobson’s mentor is William W. Bradley, the chairman for DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago, and a director at the Starbucks Corporation.
Cyrus F. Freidheim Jr. is a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago, and an honorary trustee at the Brookings Institution (think tank).
Richard C. Blum is an honorary trustee at the Brookings Institution (think tank), married to Senator Dianne Feinstein, and a board member for the Haas School of Business.
Barbara Bass Bakar is a benefactor at the Haas School of Business, and was a director at the Starbucks Corporation.
Sheryl K. Sandberg was a trustee at the Brookings Institution (think tank), and is a director at the Starbucks Corporation.
Robert M. Gates is a director at the Starbucks Corporation, and the secretary at the U.S. Department of Defense for the Barack Obama administration.
Patrick H. Gaspard was the White House political director for the Barack Obama administration, the national field director for America Coming Together, the national political director for the 2008 Barack Obama presidential campaign, the chair, national mall for the 2013 Barack Obama inaugural committee, and is an executive director at the Democratic National Committee.
Robert F. Bauer is the general counsel for the Democratic National Committee, was the White House counsel for the Barack Obama administration, and Barack Obama’s personal counsel.
Barack Obama is the president of the Barack Obama administration, and was an intern at Sidley Austin LLP.
Michelle Obama was a lawyer at Sidley Austin LLP.
R. Eden Martin is counsel at Sidley Austin LLP, and the president of the Commercial Club of Chicago.
Mellody L. Hobson is a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago, the chairman for DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., and a director at the Starbucks Corporation.
Howard D. Schultz was a director at the DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., and is the chairman & president & CEO for the Starbucks Corporation.
Posted by Sam and Bunny Sewell at 10:56 PM