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Commentary By Diana Furchtgott-Roth

Trump's Job Promises Depend on This Ice-Cream-Scooper-To-CEO Success Story

Economics, Culture Employment, Culture & Society

Andy Puzder, who worked his way up, would know how to support businesses as labor secretary

On Thursday the Senate Committee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions will hold confirmation hearings for Andy Puzder to be secretary of labor. Puzder is the most important nominee for President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, because Trump campaigned on a promise of bringing back jobs — and Puzder knows how to do that.

Trump’s presidency will ultimately be judged not by the wall, not by the existence of transgender bathrooms, not by the eradication of ISIS, but by whether people feel they are economically better off. In order to believe that they are better off, people need not just jobs, but the prospect of upward mobility. They want to feel as though they are on an upward escalator, not that they are standing still.

That’s where Andy Puzder comes in. If confirmed as Labor Department secretary, he will be able to make it easier for employers to create jobs by making sense of the onslaught of regulations that his predecessor, Thomas Perez, imposed on employers. He would be in a position to roll back those that are unduly burdensome and impede hiring.

“Andy Puzder knows what it is like to start out with an entry-level wage and work up, because he did it.”

Let’s look at one example: the persuader rule. In 2011, the Labor Department proposed the following rule: If a company consulted an attorney about a unionization matter, the name of that attorney had to be made public, along with all the attorney’s other clients, and the amounts that the other clients had paid to the attorney.

I asked an attorney acquaintance what he thought of the proposal. “They can’t do that,” he told me. “That’s impossible.”

It turned out that the attorney was right, but it took five years and millions of dollars in legal fees to prove it.

The final rule was due to go into effect in July 2016. But in late June, Senior U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings in Lubbock, Texas, placed a temporary hold. He wrote that it was “defective to its core” and “violates free speech and association rights protected by the First Amendment.” He permanently blocked it Nov. 16.

The rule would have prevented small businesses from getting legal advice when faced with a union-organizing campaign, making it easier for unions to win a vote for union representation. Large businesses have in-house counsels, but small ones must hire attorneys when they need it.

This is not the only rule that has been ruled illegal. Texas Federal District Court Judge Amos L. Mazzant III, an appointee of President Obama, blocked the overtime rule, which required overtime pay for all white-collar workers earning up to $47,000 a year. Texas Federal District Court Judge Marcia Crone overturned a rule stating that if a company or one of its subcontractors has allegations of violations of federal labor and employment laws, it may lose its federal contracts or the opportunity to bid on others.

Under Perez, the Wage and Hour Division’s administrator issued an interpretation of the law that made it more difficult to hire independent contractors — even if these independent contractors preferred the higher wages and flexibility that come with independent contractor status. This makes it more difficult for companies such as Uber and Lyft to operate.

These rules and others take up valuable time that could be spent on producing goods and services. They interfere with the ability of employers to hire and promote workers. Some need to be rolled back.

Andy Puzder is the perfect person to take a good look at these regulations. He started out his career, as I did, selling ice cream at Dunkin’ Brands’ Baskin-Robbins. He spent three years playing in rock bands before finishing a bachelor’s degree and getting a law degree.

After working for Carl Karcher, founder of the fast food chain Carl’s Jr., Puzder became CEO of Santa Barbara Restaurant Group, and then joined CKE Restaurants as general counsel. He became CEO of CKE in 2000 when it was in financial trouble, and built it into a company with 3,000 restaurants. All these restaurants, 94% operated by franchisees, together generate $1.4 billion in revenue and employ about 75,000 workers.

Around 60% of his mangers are women or minorities, and most of them began as crew members. Puzder believes in workplace advancement; opportunities for all and management education while on the job.

Puzder knows what it is like to start out with an entry-level wage and work up, because he did it. He has a track record of helping thousands of people advance their careers.. He understands that if arbitrary increases in pay and unpredictable regulations are adopted, these can negatively affect job creation and retention. In order to avoid more and more automation, our policies must make economic sense.


Puzder has the experience of saving CKE from destruction, which will help him as labor secretary. It is an advantage to have a labor secretary who has gone from an ice cream seller to a rock musician to a lawyer to a CEO. He has lived the life cycles of what it takes to create employment. The Senate would be wise to confirm him without delay.

This piece originally appeared on WSJ's MarketWatch


Diana Furchtgott-Roth is a senior fellow and director of Economics21. She also serves on the transition team for President-elect Donald Trump. Follow her on Twitter here.

This piece originally appeared in WSJ's MarketWatch