Starbucks CEO: No Economic Certainty in U.S.

Howard Schultz on dangers of soaring deficit, unemployment numbers


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," September 7, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


HOWARD SCHULTZ, CEO, STARBUCKS: We no longer can allow these people in Washington to dictate a strategy for the country that I believe is on a collision course with time.


NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF “YOUR WORLD”: That guy’s face ring a bell? No sugar in that cup of coffee. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz calling out Washington to start brewing up some real plans to boost the economy. Schultz making those comments at a town hall on jobs that he hosted last night.

The Starbucks boss with me right now.

A lot of people said after that performance, said, hey, why don’t you run for office?

SCHULTZ: I’m just running a coffee company, Neil.

CAVUTO: But you’re passionate about this, right?

SCHULTZ: I’m passionate about it because I think what happened after the debt debacle is we saw a crisis of confidence in America. We lost trillions of dollars in the stock market. We saw the connective tissue of what happens in America around the world.

And I think we have a situation right now where there’s a crisis of leadership. And as a result of that...

CAVUTO: And you blame both sides for that?



CAVUTO: Not talking, working with each other.

SCHULTZ: I’m a registered Democrat, but this is a problem in Washington in which the leadership in Washington is not doing what is needed.

And I think the country is going in the wrong direction with 9.1 percent unemployment, 42 out of 50 states facing a budget deficit. There’s going to be significant cuts in social services around America. And I think we’re floating in an area where we are drifting towards mediocrity.

And I think I just felt like I had to speak up and try and get like- minded people on both sides of the aisle to sign up with me. We have got over 140 CEOs now. We had 130,000 people call up on a town hall teleconference last night, just people all over the country.

And I think the message that I got last night was we just don’t feel represented. We don’t recognize...


CAVUTO: What is your biggest beef, in other words, you as a CEO? Earlier this week, Jimmy Hoffa Jr., Teamsters president, was saying that guys like you can’t keep shipping jobs overseas. Now, you have a lot of workers all over the world.

SCHULTZ: I agree with that.

CAVUTO: But what do you make of his argument that you do more harm than good, that -- is that a message, you quit expanding, quit -- what is it?

SCHULTZ: Well, I don’t think you can blame a country for expanding overseas where that’s where the market -- where their market is and their customers are.

CAVUTO: Well, they say that is un-American.

SCHULTZ: But I think there is a seismic change right now in shifting responsibility not only to Washington, but other business leaders.

But let’s look at the facts. And I think you know these numbers. There’s a trillion dollars sitting on the balance sheet of public companies today that is not being invested back in the economy.

CAVUTO: How do you get it back?

SCHULTZ: And there’s over a trillion dollars overseas right now that is not being repatriated.

Why is that? Because there’s a crisis of uncertainty in the country. There’s no investments in the country, or very little, because we don’t know the direction and there’s no confidence in the foundation. That’s Washington’s responsibility.

CAVUTO: So that goes for Democrat and Republican CEOs. So what would you or they like to see out of Washington?

SCHULTZ: We have to have -- there’s no question that unemployment and the fracturing of consumer confidence is linked to the debt ceiling deal.

There has to be a long-term deal which absolutely takes into consideration the debt of the United States, which is not $14 trillion, which is $47 trillion, because that is the obligation...

CAVUTO: All the obligations going forward.

SCHULTZ: That has to be addressed.

And then you will see reinvestment into the country by public companies because the air of uncertainty will be lifted. But then there has to be a laser focus within Washington, on both sides of the aisle, on job creation.

CAVUTO: So, a $300 billion jobs plan that we are...


SCHULTZ: Well...

CAVUTO: ... told the president is going to announce, what does Howard Schultz think of that?

SCHULTZ: I think that’s a fantastic start. But that’s not the -- the short-term answer in the problem. The short-term answer is we need a long term-debt ceiling deal that relieves the pressure.

CAVUTO: And your colleagues, if they had a debt ceiling deal, they would hire based on that?

SCHULTZ: Well, I think -- you know what? I don’t want to say things that might seem sophomoric or trite.

But there is a direct linkage to the fact that we have no certainty with the long-term economic issues of this country and the fracturing of public confidence in the country and consumer confidence among consumers.

CAVUTO: And unless they get off the dime, you guys won’t be spending a lot of dimes?

SCHULTZ: Well, I think when you have ideology on both sides of the aisle and people’s reelection and polling as the reason to make decisions, the question I would -- I’m asking, rhetorically, is, is that the best we can do? And is that the reason that you are there?

You took an oath of office on both sides of the aisle to represent America, not one single ideology. Leave the ideology out of the room. Come in and solve these problems. I don’t think the country’s problems in terms of the economics are that difficult to solve if you had like-minded people there to solve it.

CAVUTO: Howard Schultz, good seeing you. Thank you very much.

SCHULTZ: Thank you.

CAVUTO: When you announce your candidacy soon, come back here.


CAVUTO: Howard Schultz, the Starbucks CEO.

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