On Thursday, I spoke with Joe Kernan at CNBC’s “Squawk Box” about another fast food industry first coming from Carl’s Jr.  The Carl’s Jr. All-Natural Burger is the first among major fast food companies to feature a grass-fed, free-range beef patty without added hormones, antibiotics or steroids.

During the interview, I said that my job was not to tell people what to eat, but to figure out what they want to eat and then serve it to them.  Research showed us that consumers, particularly millennials, want more natural products, so we’re giving them what they’ve asked for. We’re rolling out the All-Natural Burger at Carl’s Jr. in the west on December 17 and testing it in our Hardee’s markets right now.

Joe also asked me about the headwinds that the fast food industry is managing right now.  I mentioned part-time labor, commodity costs and Obamacare. To see my response and the full interview, click here.

Also Thursday, Katie Little from CNBC.com posted an interview about our company’s continued uptick in sales, growth and relevance to consumers.  Despite the media’s focus on McDonald’s, the rest of us in the fast food industry aren’t seeing the same problems. In fact, I think most of us in fast food are experiencing the benefits of lower gas prices, which is putting more cash in people’s pockets. To read the full article, click here.

 

Earlier this week, during an interview on Fox Business, Neil Cavuto and I discussed efforts by the White House to force businesses to pay overtime to management level employees. Neil started off the segment by making it clear that the next two years are going to be difficult ones for businesses under this Administration.  I concur.  The real problem with this President is his lack of understanding of how business works.  Efforts to turn managers into hourly employees is a great example of how this Administration fails to appreciate the most basic elements of running a business.

At our restaurants, we compensate our restaurant managers with a salary and a performance bonus whereas President Obama wants to turn managers into hourly employees that get overtime. This means that managers will be compensated for time spent as opposed to time well-spent. Unfortunately, the President’s move would hurt the very managers he intends to help by turning them into hourly employees, depriving them of the benefits that come from moving into management including an incentive bonus based on their personal performance. In March, I wrote about this issue in a Wall Street Journal op-ed titled Obama’s Overtime-Pay Boomerang.

This Administration’s policies are hurting employees and businesses.  We need to elect a president who understands the private sector. Personally, I think Mitt Romney is the man for the job.  I hope he runs.

 

Earlier today, I spoke with Adam Shapiro of Varney & Co. on Fox Business about the FDA’s recent move that requires chain restaurants, movie theaters and pizza parlors to post calorie counts on their menus. To understand the whole picture, it’s important to note that menu labeling became law in 2010 as part of Obamacare.  And, just like Obamacare, the new menu rule is an example of nanny state overregulation. It’s an ill-conceived plan that demonstrates this Administration’s failure to understand American consumers, American business and the marketplace.

Caloric menu labeling doesn’t change eating habits.  Research to date has found that placing caloric content on menus does not have an impact on people’s eating habits.  Following are just a few articles outlining some of that research:

The FDA’s new menu rule will be expensive for restaurants and expensive for consumers. There are better ways to provide information to consumers.  For example, at Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, we’ve had posters that list the caloric and fat content of our products in our restaurants for a number of years.  And, on our web site, consumers can check the fat and caloric content of our products with a nutritional calculator. For each of our products, we discloses serving size, calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, natural trans fat, artificial trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, dietary fibers, sugars and protein.  This format works for consumers and it works for business.  In fact, the appropriations committee that funds the FDA recommended that these types of posters could serve as adequate nutritional information inside restaurants.  Unfortunately, like the rest of Obamacare , the menu labeling law was put together hastily.

Another Obamacare loophole that’s bad for Americans. Before closing the interview, Shapiro asked my opinion about a new-found loophole in Obamacare.  According to this Washington Times article, “under the President’s new amnesty, businesses will have a $3,000-per-employee incentive to hire illegal immigrants over native-born workers because of a quirk of Obamacare.” If that’s the case, the math is astounding.  If American businesses hired just 2 million of the 5 million illegal immigrants affected by the President’s executive order, American business could save $6 billion.  The odds of any business not taking advantage of a $3,000-per-employee loophole is absurd.

Whether this is an intended or unintended consequence of the law, it proves once again, Obamacare is a poorly designed and poorly executed concept.  Obamacare has become the Edsel of the health care industry.

 

 

 

Last week, I posted my POV about President Obama’s executive order on immigration and its negative effect on true comprehensive reform and U.S. workers.  The article was a bit longer than my usual posts on this blog, but then, an unconstitutional executive mandate is a big issue. It demands our attention.  I am pleased and flattered that the editors at Real Clear Politics appreciated the piece and ran the blog post in full on their site.   Here’s the link:  Obama Does Not Want Immigration Reform.

 

On Friday, I spoke to Neil Cavuto on Fox Business News following President Obama’s announcement that he will allow nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants to stay in the country.  I’m a big supporter of immigration reform as these two articles demonstrate:

But, I’m also a believer in our Constitution which establishes the legal foundation upon which this great nation was built.  That’s why I can’t support the President making immigration reforms for political purposes via unilateral executive action.

Immigration reform requires legislative action, not an executive mandate. On that point, last week, numerous business executives, political leaders and I sent a letter to the Republican members of Congress imploring them to reform our broken immigration system. The letter encourages Congress to pass legislation that “discourages the rising tide of illegal immigration while fixing the unnecessary obstacles that send talented individuals elsewhere and make it harder for American companies to compete, grow and create jobs for American workers.”  The letter ran in the Washington Times as part of a 16-page supplement that also featured opinion-editorials by prominent Republicans in support of immigration reform. To read or download the full supplement, click here.  The Republican leadership supports immigration reform.  Why then did the President take this dangerous and unprecedented action?

The immigrant community should understand better than most the potential dangers of a President acting outside the parameters of his constitutional powers.  Either they or their parents came to this country for the same reason my grandparents did – a free society that offered economic opportunities.  The countries they came from often did not respect the rule of law, lacked a system designed to protect the people from tyranny, and were dominated by an oppressive class unrestrained by the rule of law.  By ignoring our Constitution and deciding that he had the right to legislate because Congress wouldn’t do what he wanted, President Obama acted like he was the ruler of one of these oppressive regimes, endangering our liberty and putting people in this country in jeopardy of losing respect for both the law and the system that produces those laws.  Let me be clear: we absolutely need immigration reform, but it’s wrong to take a cynical and political approach. It’s not about electoral payoffs; it’s about doing the right thing for people and families who have lived in the shadows far too long.

It’s not that the President was unaware of what he was doing or the limits on his legitimate authority. Prior to issuing this executive order, even President Obama stated that “The notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case.” In President Obama’s own words:

He has specifically acknowledged that “[w]e’re a nation of laws, that’s part of our tradition,” and that “I’m not a dictator, I’m the President.” One has to wonder what changed. It certainly wasn’t our Constitution. Perhaps it was the electoral winds that recently changed.

There is great value in the legal system we have in place.  In fact it’s so valuable that people from all over the world have left and still desire to leave their homes and families to come here.  We shouldn’t support a president who endangers that system just because we like what he’s doing.  What if another President used Obama’s precedent to issue an executive order that, for example, stopped enforcement of certain civil rights laws?  Empowering the President to ignore or rewrite the law is an exceptionally dangerous two-edged sword.  We have three branches of government and a balance of power between them for a reason.  Working with the new Congress, President Obama could achieve comprehensive immigration reform.  We shouldn’t allow him to desert that long term goal for very dangerous short term benefits. I understand that Democrats want to reverse their political fortunes, but using undocumented immigrants as pawns is wrong. I want those immigrants to join us on the journey to a great American future and I want Congress and the President to work together to achieve real, lasting reform.

Unfortunately, the truth is, the President does not want the immigration issue to go away.  If the Administration and the Democrats can keep this issue unresolved and the debate alive, they believe it can get them votes. What Obama’s executive order did is, at best, transitory.  The next president could rescind it in 30 seconds.  If the Democrats wanted real and lasting immigration reform, they would have enacted it between 2008 and 2010 when they controlled all three branches of government.  If Obama wanted immigration reform, knowing that the incoming Republican congressional leadership also wants real reform, he wouldn’t have done the one thing Republican leaders unequivocally told him could destroy the possibility of comprehensive immigration reform.  The Democrats don’t want to resolve this issue.  They want it to look like they’re trying to resolve it.  As long as the immigrant community keeps voting for Democrats in the belief that they will resolve this issue, the issue will never be resolved.  Democrats’ words are pretty, but words must translate into legitimate, lasting and comprehensive actions. So far, they have not.

Republicans should not take the political bait. This is not a political battle; it’s a moral battle. They should legislate.  They should govern.  The Republican leadership wants to fix our broken immigration system.  It’s the right thing to do.  It’s the Democrats who need this issue to stay alive.  Which explains President Obama’s unilateral action that makes it look like he’s acting for the immigrant community when he’s really trying to kill the possibility of any real reform.  At the very least, his actions have empowered the wing of the Republican party that doesn’t trust him and doesn’t want real reform.  If we want real reform, the smartest thing we can do is support candidates who go beyond empty promises and deliver results. In the midterms, that’s exactly what America did.  We sent a message to this President more clearly than any midterm message sent to any President in our nation’s history:  “STOP. We want our government to work.”  Apparently, that message didn’t get through the fog of his political ambition.

The future of this nation, which has been a home for immigrants from all over the world, depends on our electing and supporting leaders responsive to our  needs, rather than those bent on expanding their political power.

To view my interview with Neil Cavuto, click here.

 

 

 

 

Yesterday, I spoke with Neil Cavuto on Fox Business News about President Obama’s comments dismissing the benefits of potential Keystone XL pipeline jobs because many are temporary.  Why demean temporary jobs?  Infrastructure jobs, by their very nature, are temporary.  That does not make them any less valuable to workers, their families or the U.S. economy. During my interview, I outlined just a few of the economic benefits of the Keystone XL pipeline:

  •  Creates American jobs: Whether part-time or full-time, these are jobs that require no money from the federal government.  These will be private sector businesses creating private sector jobs.  Many groups debate the actual number of jobs that the project would create.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce claims it could create 250,000 permanent U.S. jobs.  The State Department environmental review estimated that Keystone would support 42,000 temporary jobs over its two-year construction period — about 3,900 of them in construction, the rest in indirect support jobs, such as food service.  Regardless of the actual numbers, one thing is clear: Keystone would create much needed American jobs.
  • Supports the thriving U.S. energy sector: The administration regularly speaks about the need for building and improving roads and bridges and creating infrastructure projects to generate jobs and grow the economy.  Well, the Keystone pipeline is a massive infrastructure project, but better.  Unlike roads and bridges, the pipeline would support an ongoing, thriving U.S. industry – the energy sector.
  • Boosts the U.S. economy:  The pipeline will, among other things, reduce the cost of transporting oil.  This, in turn, will lower oil prices. Reducing oil prices gives a boost to the economy and allows businesses to create more jobs.  I’ve spoken to many CEO’s in the restaurant industry lately about this.  They all experienced an increase in their business around June this year; the same time that energy prices went down.

Building the Keystone XL pipeline is in interest of the American economy as well as the American working and middle class.  Let’s not demean temporary jobs.  By the way, that White House job is temporary.

To view my interview with Neil Cavuto, click here.

 

Joni Ernst Des Moines Register Ad

Yesterday, Roll Call posted an article titled “From the Drive-thru to Congress: the Fast Food Caucus Dishes.”   The story highlights Senator Joni Ernst and other  lawmakers who dedicated parts of their youth behind the fast food counter.  The inspiration for the article was an ad that CKE Restaurants, parent company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., ran in the Des Moines Register two days after Senator Joni Ernst was elected in Iowa. CKE is also the company that I am proud to lead.  As many of you heard or read on midterm election night, Senator Ernst mentioned Hardee’s in her acceptance speech:      

“It’s a long way from Red Oak to Washington, from the biscuit line at Hardee’s to the United States Senate . . .”  - Senator Joni Ernst, Election Night Acceptance Speech, November 4, 2014

We at CKE Restaurants, as well as our Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. franchisees, were thrilled to hear the Senator’s shout out for Hardee’s. We also appreciate that her comments point to the importance of entry-level jobs and the value these opportunities provide in helping people get on the ladder of success.

There has never been a nation that offered millions of people the opportunity to make a better life for themselves and their families.  Our company-owned and franchise restaurants provide hundreds of thousands of jobs that enable people to move up the corporate ladder, support their college education, become a franchisee or launch an entrepreneurial career in another field.  We have several executives and franchisees who started behind a Carl’s Jr. or Hardee’s counter and worked their way up.  I started my own career scooping ice cream for minimum wage at a Baskin-Robbins.  And, now, I’m proud to lead CKE and the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. brand.

The Roll Call article features several examples of how the fast food industry doesn’t just fuel appetites, we fuel success.  Whether your job is serving guests or making biscuits, running a crew or running a region, if you are dedicated to quality, team work and service, you are equipped with the skills and experience to fulfill your dreams.  That’s the American way.

 

 

Cavuto and Andy

The minimum wage debate was a hot topic during midterm elections.  Last Friday on Fox Business News, I talked with Neil Cavuto about the minimum wage proposals that midterm voters approved in Nebraska, South Dakota, Alaska and Arkansas. Neil and I discussed the effectiveness of a national minimum wage hike to $10.10 and I shared my point of view that increases should be decided by states, or ideally municipalities, and not the federal government.  To view the full discussion on Your World with Neil Cavuto, click here.

 

BloombergTV

On Monday, I talked with Bloomberg TV’s “Street Smart” host Trish Regan about Obamacare’s impact on business, employees and the economy. During the segment, we discussed the Supreme Court’s recent decision to hear a case on the legality of Obamacare’s federal exchange subsidies. From a legal standpoint, I personally don’t see the Court upholding the federal exchanges.

Further into the discussion, I also pointed out that thanks to the ACA, employee work hours are being reduced to a 30-hour work week.  That’s hardly a sound strategy to increase people’s income. Another effect of Obamacare is that it’s slowing business growth.  That’s hardly a sound strategy to boost our economy.  Unfortunately, the current execution of Obamacare is resulting in a lot of negative repercussions across the board.  We need to pass the “40 hours is full time” bipartisan bill that redefines full-time work as 40 hours per week. That would be a step in the right direction for employees and for business.

To view the full Bloomberg TV segment, click here.

 

Opening Bell 10.30.14

Early this morning, I talked with Fox Business Opening Bell’s Maria Bartiromo about what American business would like to see from Washington after the upcoming midterm elections.  Real progress, an improved economy and a stronger country are all possible if elected officials focus on a few key issues:

  1. Reform the tax code. We need a simpler, flatter, fairer and more competitive tax code.
  2. Eliminate the immigration issue.  Secure the border and develop a rational plan on how we deal with the people who are here now and how we bring people in.
  3. Enable the energy sector.  Approve the Keystone Pipeline, allow oil drilling on federal lands and get rid of the renewable fuel standard.
  4. Improve Obamacare.  Eliminate the medical device tax and implement the “40 hours is full-time” act – – two issues, by the way, that currently receive  bi-partisan support.

To see the full discussion, click here.