Starbucks CEO: No Campaign Contributions Until Congress Fixes The Deficit

Howard Schultz, the founder and CEO of Starbucks, is suggesting that his fellow business leaders refuse to donate to anyone on Capitol Hill until they come up with a viable plan to bring the deficit under control:

The CEO of Starbucks is urging fellow business leaders to join him in getting Washington’s attention by refusing to give money to political campaigns until there is a serious plan to rein in deficits.

“I am asking that all of us forgo political contributions until the Congress and the president return to Washington and deliver a fiscally disciplined long-term debt and deficit plan to the American people,” Howard Schultz wrote Sunday in an email to business honchos obtained by POLITICO.

Schultz called on CEOs and other corporate executives to “voice your perspective publicly,” and he has done the same in recent days. Last Monday, he wrote to all Starbucks employees blasting “the lack of cooperation and irresponsibility among elected officials as they have put partisan agendas before the people’s agenda.”

In the letter to business leaders, Schultz said “businesses need to do all they can to accelerate job creation.” And, in his message to employees, he said Starbucks would do just that. The company’s “innovative, global growth and new distribution channels will continue to create full- and part-time jobs, and not just in the U.S., but in the more than 50 countries where we operate,” he wrote.

“This is a time for citizenship, not partisanship. It is a time for action,” Schultz said in his Sunday letter. “We just believe that in this moment of great uncertainty, the government needs discipline, the people need jobs — and leaders need to lead.”

Schultz first articulated his call for a contribution boycott in an interview with New York Times business columnist Joe Nocera published on Saturday, saying that the overwhelming reaction he got from employees and a group of 50 business leaders with whom he’d shared the internal note had galvanized him to act.

What Schultz wants to see, he said in that interview, is for Americans to go on strike against their politicians.

“The fundamental problem is that the lens through which Congress approaches issues is reelection. The lifeblood of their reelection campaigns is political contributions,” Schultz said. Whether big donors or small ones, Americans should stop giving and see if it galvanizes Washington to act.

“The debt crisis is really the symbol of a larger problem, which is that our leaders are not leading,” he added. “America’s leaders need to put their feet in the shoes of working Americans…. Instead, all they think about is their own political self-interest.”

Would it work? Probably not, because the guys who really want to influence the system aren’t going to stop contribution. It’s a nice idea, though.
FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, US Politics, , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Would it work? Probably not, because the guys who really want to influence the system aren’t going to stop contribution. It’s a nice idea, though.

    Well, it would save him some money anyway… And he wouldn’t have to listen to any political speeches either.

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    Now that’s “starve the beast”. If the idea catches on, it would mark the end of politics as we know it.

  3. Dan says:

    Will Starbucks rehire the 20,000 Americans they’ve laid off over the past couple years if the budget is balanced? I don’t know that anyone should be taking advice from a company that actually thought opening multiple locations on the same block was a sustainable model.

  4. Catfish says:

    @Dan: How about when they closed locations that had only been open for a year? They never gave the one near us a chance to make it.