Starbucks founder urges CEOs to push for end to federal shutdown

Tue Oct 8, 2013 7:44am EDT
 
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By Lisa Baertlein

(Reuters) - Howard Schultz, Starbucks Corp's outspoken CEO, on Monday urged fellow business leaders to ratchet up the pressure on U.S. political leaders to end the stalemate that has partially shut down the federal government since last week.

"This weekend I heard from several business leaders who shared their concern about our relative silence and impact in urging the political leadership to act on behalf of the citizenry," Schultz wrote in a letter posted on the company's website. "It is our responsibility to address the crisis of confidence that is needlessly being set in motion."

Starbucks released the letter after Schultz sent it to top business executives, whom the company did not name.

Schultz, who was not available for further comment, said he was "utterly disappointed by the level of irresponsibility and dysfunction we are witness to with our elected political leadership."

Since leading the world's biggest coffee chain through a painful but successful restructuring a few years ago, Schultz has waded into several hot-button national debates.

During the battle over raising the debt ceiling in August 2011, Schultz made headlines by calling for Americans to stop making political contributions until lawmakers struck a bipartisan deal on the country's debt, revenue and spending.

Just last month Schultz wrote an open letter to Starbucks customers, asking them voluntarily to stop bringing their firearms into its stores. The company's long-standing policy had been to default to local gun laws, including "open carry" regulations that allow licensed gun owners to wear their weapons in public. Schultz's call followed a series of mass shootings across the country that have fanned a fractious national debate over gun rights.

The deeply polarized U.S. Congress on Monday appeared no closer to finding a political solution to end the government shutdown than when it began last Tuesday, raising concerns about the economic consequences of a prolonged stalemate.   Continued...