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All stirred up: CEOs hope to get Washington's attention
A Plano CEO is among more than 100 business leaders who have pledged to withhold contributions to political candidates until Washington gets its act together.
JCPenney Chairman and CEO Myron "Mike" Ullman recently signed onto Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz's movement, joining the likes of the heads of the NASDAQ and the New York Stock Exchanges. Ullman had no comment other than to confirm he has made the pledge.
The movement was started by Schultz in mid-August when he wrote an open letter to Starbucks employees. In that letter, he said "We cannot allow political partisanship and government gridlock to overshadow what is most important for our own future success."
He went on to say that he would not donate to any incumbents until the debt ceiling issue was settled in a bi-partisan manner. He urged his fellow CEOs and business executives to follow suit. Schultz, who has donated almost exclusively to Democratic candidates according to records from the Center for Responsive Politics, said the issue facing Washington is the responsibility of both political parties.
"Over the last few weeks and months, our national elected officials from both parties have failed to lead," Schultz said in a letter dated Aug. 15. "They have chosen to put partisan and ideological purity over the well-being of the people. They have undermined the full faith and credit of the United States. They have stirred up fears about our economic prospects without doing anything to truly address those fears. They have spent a resource even more precious than the dollar: our collective confidence in each other, in the future and in our ability to solve problems together."
Schultz urged the nation's leaders to face the fiscal challenges before them with "civility, honesty and a willingness to sacrifice their own re-election." He said the can must not be kicked down the road any longer and all options must be considered, from cutting spending on entitlement programs to increasing taxes.
In a statement released Wednesday, Schultz said he was proud of the pledges made by business leaders and the American people and said he wanted to set in motion an upward spiral of confidence. The statement also included quotes from people who have made the pledge.
"Demand that the 12-member deficit reduction committee (and every member of Congress) sign a pledge to publish a zero-base review of every department with recommendations for real and significant cost cutting -- the kind nearly every American family and business has had to do," said Joel Peterson, chairman of Jet Blue airlines.
A second portion of the pledge calls for business leaders to help grow the economy without waiting for Washington's help. The people making this pledge range from large international corporations to small business owners.
Dan DiMicco, chairman and CEO of Nucor Corporation, said his company will invest $3-$5 billion in the next five years and create thousands of jobs, while Clark Rountree said his business will hire at least one new person in the next month.
"As many of our political leaders campaign and vacation, the U.S. economy remains in a cycle of fear and uncertainty," Schultz said. "I'm encouraged that many of you agree there is a way to break this cycle of fear and to begin by supporting a two-part pledge."
For information on Schultz's campaign, visit www.upwardspiral2011.org.
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