Starbucks stirred the political pot Wednesday by urging its baristas to write "come together" on its cups as a way to pressure US lawmakers to compromise on a deal to avert a year-end fiscal crisis.
Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz said the American coffee giant was recommending its first-ever message on the side of tall, grande and venti (small, medium and large) drinks sold at its Washington stores as a way to help break the capital's gridlock on the so-called "fiscal cliff."
"As many of you know, our elected officials in Washington DC have been unable to come together and compromise to solve the tremendously important, time-sensitive issue to fix the national debt," Schultz said in a letter posted on the Starbucks website.
"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."
Lawmakers and the White House have less than a week to work out a deal aimed at preventing tax hikes from hitting all Americans and a series of deep, mandated spending cuts from kicking in beginning January 1.
Economists warn that failure to agree to a new deficit-reduction deal could tilt the US economy back into recession.
President Barack Obama and members of Congress return to Washington Thursday after a Christmas break.
There are more than 50 Starbucks stores in downtown Washington alone, including about a dozen within a three-block radius of the White House.
One Starbucks some two blocks from the presidential mansion had "Come Together" written on a slip of paper taped to the counter, but some of the drinks were being handed to customers without the message scribbled on the cups.