“Our company, CKE Restaurants Inc., employs about 21,000 people (our franchisees employ 49,000 more) in Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants. For months, we have been working with Mercer Health & Benefits LLC, our health-care consultant, to identify Obamacare’s potential financial impact on CKE. Mercer estimated that when the law is fully implemented our health-care costs will increase about $18 million a year. That would put our total health-care costs at $29.8 million, a 150 percent increase from the roughly $12 million we spent last year.
The money to cover our increased expenses will have to come from somewhere. We are a profitable company and, after paying our obligations, we reinvest our earnings in the business. Reinvesting in the business is how we grow, create jobs and opportunity. This is true for most U.S. businesses.
The complexity of this legislation makes it hard to anticipate costs in the future. Our investments pay off — when they are successful — over the long term. Because we don’t know what our health-care expenses will be in two or three years, we are unable to determine with any certainty how much our investments will have to return for us to be profitable. All of that counsels in favor of holding off on new investments and saving our funds. We want to grow. But we are unable to do so knowing that large and undetermined liabilities will absorb funds we otherwise would invest for expansion.
Washington needs to understand that legislation like the health-care law has costs as well as benefits, that the costs suppress job growth, and that when too much legislation kills too many jobs, everyone suffers. Chief executives have responsibilities to their existing employees, customers and shareholders. We simply cannot risk their jobs and their money by investing when we know that legislation like Obamacare will make it so much harder to earn a profit. The sooner both parties in Washington understand this, the sooner we can all begin looking for ways to strengthen the social safety net without hurting the economy.”