A Starbucks employee writes a message on a cup of freshly brewed coffee at a local store in Washington, DC on December 26, 2012. 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 is getting into the debate over the looming "fiscal cliff." 

CEO Howard Schultz has posted a letter online explaining that for the rest of the week, employees in the megachain's Washington, D.C., stores will write "Come Together" on customers' coffee cups. 

"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," Schultz wrote. "My hope is that this simple message will serve as a holiday reminder from Starbucks of the spirit that has always bridged differences and that we all have the power to come together and make a difference during every season of the year."

Schultz directs readers to learn more from "Fix the Debt," a business-backed group pushing for higher tax revenue, lower government spending and cuts to Social Security and Medicare. (Going over the cliff would actually cut the deficit; the looming crisis is that it could cause another recession.) 

President Obama cut short his Hawaii vacation to return to Washington Wednesday night and deal with automatic spending cuts and tax increases set to take effect next week. Congress is also back in session Thursday.