Starbucks, the world's largest coffee-shop operator, is giving away cups of joe to encourage the U.S. government to reach a solution to the shutdown and pending debt crisis.
Starbucks customers who buy someone else their favorite drink will receive a free tall brewed coffee starting Wednesday through Oct. 11, Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz, 60, said in an emailed letter to Starbucks store and corporate employees.
"It's that simple: 'Pay it forward,' and Starbucks will pay you back," he said. "This is a different yet authentic way Starbucks can help our fellow citizens to come together by supporting one another during a particularly challenging time."
The partial shutdown, which started Oct. 1, has shuttered government services and furloughed federal employees. Some functions, such as mail delivery, are continuing. Republicans are insisting on changing the 2010 Affordable Care Act, while President Obama refuses to engage in discussions about tying policy conditions to opening the government or raising the debt limit.
"The U.S. federal government shutdown, the pending debt and default crisis, waning consumer confidence and the general sense of unease these and other events have instilled in the minds of so many have created another period of uncertainty in our country," Schultz said.
The Starbucks CEO has spoken out on political issues in the past. In 2011, Schultz urged Obama and Congress to overcome party divisions to find solutions to the U.S. budget deficit and unemployment. He also enlisted business leaders and fellow CEOs, including Tim Armstrong and Walter Robb, in a pledge to boycott campaign donations until Congress put the nation's finances in order.