"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."