Today’s scouting report on America’s Dream Team Andrew Puzder, Secretary of Labor

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Andrew Franklin Puzder July 11, 1950 (age 66)
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Lisa Henning (1973–1987)
Deanna Descher (1987–present)
Children 6
Residence Franklin, Tennessee
Alma mater Cleveland State University (BA)
Washington University (JD)

  • From 1978 to 1983, was an associate at the law offices of St. Louis attorney Morris Shenker, practicing corporate law.
  • In 1984 he moved to the Stolar Partnership and worked with trial attorney Charles A. Seigel.
  • He also served as a trial lawyer in St. Louis until 1991.
  • Puzder authored Missouri House Bill 1596, an abortion law prohibiting the use of state money for abortions and declaring that life begins at conception. Following a challenge, the Supreme Court in 1989 upheld the law in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services. The watershed decision opened the door for new state-level restrictions on abortion.
  • Puzder met Carl Karcher, the founder of the Carl’s Jr. who was embroiled in serious financial difficulties and asked Puzder to move to California as his personal attorney. In 1991, Puzder relocated to Orange County, California. Puzder has been credited with resolving Karcher’s financial dilemma, allowing Karcher to avoid bankruptcy and retain a significant ownership interest in the company he founded, CKE Restaurants, Inc. (CKE).
  • Puzder was a partner in the Costa Mesa-based law firm Lewis, D’Amato, Brisbois & Bisgaard from 1991 to 1994 and a shareholder in Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth from March 1994 to 1995.
  • Puzder principally resolved Karcher’s financial problems by putting together a transaction with William P. Foley, the Chairman and CEO of Fidelity National Financial. In 1994, Foley became Chairman and CEO of CKE and Karcher became Chairman Emeritus. In January 1995, Puzder went on to become Executive Vice President and General Counsel for Fidelity, managing one of the largest corporate legal departments in the country until June 2000. Puzder also worked with Foley to create the Santa Barbara Restaurant Group, a conglomerate of restaurant chains. Puzder served as the company’s CEO.
  • In 1997, Puzder was also named Executive Vice President and General Counsel for CKE.
  • Also in 1997, CKE purchased Hardee’s Food Systems, Inc. Hardee’s was a distressed brand and CKE was burdened by over $700 million in debt following the acquisition. The company underperformed and its market capitalization dropped to about $200,000.
  • Faced with serious financial and operational issues, CKE’s Board of Directors named Puzder as president and CEO of Hardee’s Food Systems in June 2000 and named him president and CEO of CKE Restaurants, Inc. in September of that year. Puzder is credited with turning around both the Hardee’s brand and CKE, allowing the company to survive, become financially secure and return to growth.
  • In July 2010, the private equity firm Apollo Global Management took CKE private in a transaction valued at $1 billion.
  • In December 2013, Roark Capital Group purchased CKE and retained CKE’s management team including Puzder, who remains as CEO.
  • CKE currently owns or franchises over 3,700 restaurants in the United States and 40 foreign countries, generates $1.4 billion in annual revenue and, with its franchisees, employs over 75,000 people in the U.S.
  • In December 2016, Puzder was selected by President-elect Donald Trump as his nominee for Secretary of Labor of the United States.

    Affiliations

  • In 2011, Puzder was appointed to serve on the National Advisory Board of Washington University School of Law.
  • In 2013, he was elected as a director of the International Franchise Association’s Board of Directors.
  • Puzder is a National Council Co-Chair of the American Enterprise Institute.
  • Puzder is a member of the Job Creators Network, an organization opposing government regulation of corporations.

    Authorship and commentary 

  • Puzder has been critical of raising the federal minimum wage, arguing that it would increase costs for consumers, and increase automation, leading to fewer jobs.
  • He also opposed a Labor Department rule that would make more workers eligible for overtime pay.
  • Puzder also supports repealing the Affordable Care Act and has been critical of paid sick leave policies.
  • Speaking to Business Insider in 2016, Puzder said that increased automation could be a welcome development because machines were “always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall or an age, sex, or race discrimination case.”
  • He backed comprehensive immigration reform in 2013.
  • Puzder is a frequent author on economic and legal issues in periodicals such as The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Real Clear Politics, CNBC online, National Review, The Hill, Politico, and the Orange County Register.
  • He has been a guest on business news programs including Your World with Neil Cavuto, Varney & Co., Mornings with Maria, The O’Reilly Factor with Bill O’Reilly, Mad Money with Jim Cramer, Fast Money, Power Lunch, Lou Dobbs Tonight, and Squawk on the Street.
  • He has co-hosted both Varney & Co. and Squawk on the Street.
  • He is also a frequent speaker at colleges, universities, and other venues on economic issues and the impact of government regulations on corporations.
  • In 2010, he co-wrote the book Job Creation: How It Really Works and Why Government Doesn’t Understand It.

The election of Donald Trump, who promises a new wage growth strategy based on economic growth, signals that Americans get that a new approach is needed. Now Mr. Trump has doubled-down on his job creation mandate by nominating Mr. Puzder who understands from personal experience as a top CEO why wage regulations fail. Simply put, they create perverse incentives and market distortions that reduce job growth and economic activity, which are the real harbingers of wage growth.

Speaking this truth to the pop-culture powers that cling to wage mandates as the answer to wage growth is not popular. Mr. Puzder has been attacked recently for his opposition to, among other regulatory policies, dramatic minimum wage increases, doubling of the overtime exemption threshold, and requiring employers to offer health care. These attacks mischaracterize and demagogue his positions.

Consider the minimum wage. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that a minimum wage increase to $10.10 would kill 500,000 jobs. Last December, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco released a paper finding that the “most credible” research showed minimum wage increases resulting in “job losses” for “the least skilled workers”. Mr. Puzder’s opposition to significant minimum wage increases stems from wanting to avoid job losses for low-skilled employees.

Same with the overtime mandate that was recently struck down by a Texas judge. This rule would have doubled the salary threshold under which employees are eligible for overtime pay to $47,500. For many beginning managers, this rule would have reduced or eliminated the flexibility and bonus potential that come with a salaried position. That’s because most employers, including Mr. Puzder, incentivize their managers to run the business they manage like they own it, with a compensation structure that rewards performance over time.

Finally, economic and anecdotal evidence show that the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate has had the unintended consequence of encouraging employers to convert full time jobs to part time jobs. It has done this by requiring employers to offer health insurance — often several thousand dollars a year — to their employees who work over 30 hours per week or pay up to a $3,000 per employee penalty. Employers have no such obligation for employees working under 30 hours, making part-time employment more attractive. This is hardly an “anti-worker” position.

Though the specific wage and benefit regulations vary, the principles underlying why they don’t work remain the same: Make something more expensive and you will get less of it. Fewer job opportunities and a less robust economy reduce the demand for labor, resulting in wage stagnation.

 

 

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