The Ed Show | November 21, 2012
>>> welcome back to "the ed show." today, two big food chains actually changed their tune on obama care. the ceo of papa john 's now says that he will go along with the affordable care act without punishing employees or customers and a major denny 's franchisee has backtracked on imposing an obama care surcharge. the change came after a public backlash. the biggest about-face came from papa john 's ceo, john schneider , who said his previous comments were misunderstood. "the fact is that we are going to open hundreds of stores this year and next and increase employment by over 5,000 jobs worldwide. and we have no plans to cut team hours as a result of the obama care act . papa john 's, like most businesses, is still researching what the affordable care act means to our operations. we will honor this law, as we do all laws, and continue to offer 100% of papa john 's corporate employees and workers in company-owned stores health insurance as we have since the company was founded in 1984 ." the owner of 40 denny 's franchises, john mets, completely reversed himself on a plan to add a 5% obama surcharge. businesses at denny 's restaurants in florida dropped overnight, after his comments got widespread attention, according to the " huffington post ." denny 's corporate ceo has expressed disappointment with mr. mets and said it wasn't the company's position. what happened here is that these corporate leaders were living the republican lie. they were buying into fearmongering about the economy and the effects of the affordable care act . once president obama won a resounding re-election victory, they stuck to the republican script, but they saw they could potentially take a financial hit by making these threats. it's not worth the risk to the bottom line , to be so political. didn't the ceo of papa john 's realize that maybe democrats eat pizza as well? joining me tonight, the political editor of the progressive magazine, ruth con connif, and john nichols of "the nation" magazine. john, aren't these leaders figuring out they're going to take a hit to the bottom line , when you choose to be political like this, over their business that really has nothing to do with the politics. what do you think?
>> sure. it's one of the first lessons in business school . stay out of politics, as regard to your marketing. they can certainly give contributions and they often do. but i really think what happened with the folks at papa john 's and this denny 's franchise was that they just fell behind the pattern here. the affordable care act has been tested legislatively, judicially, and now, politically. it has passed every test. and the american people themselves have gone through a transition. they have come to understand that this is going to be the law of the land . they've come to know it better, to like it better, and these ceos , i think, as you suggest, they got caught in the republican lie. they got caught in the campaign rhetoric. and it really tripped them up. it put them a bad place. that's why you see them doing something ceos don't do very often, which is completely abandoning their position, and saying, never mind.
>> both papa john 's ceo and denny 's franchise seem to leave themselves plenty of wiggle room here, particularly on the hours of franchise employees. is this a pr stunt to save face , or is there substance behind this, ruth ?
>> i think it's a pr move. but, you know, since 2006 , we've seen more and more part-time workers, particularly in these kinds of big chains. so a lot of ceos know that they can save money by not allowing people to work full-time and qualified for benefits. and that is part of the game that's being played in the labor market , where people are willing to take a bunch of different part-time jobs and work with no benefits. my personal favorite response to this was ian 's pizza became world famous for giving out free pizza slices to protesters at our capital against scott walker , the protest against scott walker , he said, look, i've, givening my employees benefits for nine years, we do full-time work, we treat our employees like family, we can afford it, and so can these big changes. who wants to compete to be the world's worst employer? i think that message, in the sense that some sense of humanity, some sense of business. republicans love to talk about small business . well, real small businesses like ian 's, who treat their employees well and actually give them benefits and people are there for a while, and don't treat them as disposable, these folks are on the side of obama care. and i think that's a real lesson for people who think, like the republicans think, that they should just be able to squeeze people as hard as they can.
>> and papa john 's ceo also said, "and this way i can get -- i can provide health insurance and i'm not at a competitive disadvantage. our competitors are going to have to do the same thing. why wouldn't they embrace it from the start and work with the legislation? this is where, i think, they really made the mistake, john. and now they've got this big pr problem on their hands. what's the best way to correct it? give out more free pizza?
>> well, of course. you know, maybe they can come up with a pizza with turkey for tomorrow. but the bottom line is this. the affordable care act is going to be terrific for small business owners and also a lot of bigger business owners. it is a way to rationalize the delivery of health care in the united states and to make sure that it's quality care and affordable care. the madness of some of these ceos wi ceos , who have tried to separate themselves out and be these militant opponents of health care reform , is that they provide a service in a community. they provide food. and you don't want your workers to be sick on the job. you don't want people who you've reduced to part-time employment, who can't get health care , then coming in and preparing food. the bottom line is, we have the potential for a healthier, more functional society. as ruth says, there's firms like ian 's, and a lot of bigger restaurante restauranteurs, who get that this is to the good. and in a way, this is sort of like the dead-enders, the last holdouts who are trying to oppose something that, frankly, in very short order, is going to be very, very popular in the same way that social security , medicare, and medicaid are very, very popular.
>> and i guess, ruth , this might just be a big message to a lot of small business owners out there. when you jump in the lake, you're going to get wet. i mean, there was one denny 's owner down in florida that says that he was getting phone calls and he didn't have anything to do with it. there was a backlash on that. so this is going to make the republic response make corporate leaders, i think, think twice about their political outbursts. there's a difference between going local and keeping it local. but when you go national like that, there's going to be a downside. don't you think?
>> i think, absolutely pip me.n i mean, the latest numbers of people who want to repeal obama care is only about 33%, which is the lowest it's been. as people see it, they like it more. and people have more humane values than the republicans. and they are, in so many ways, having to come to grips with what americans really think about having a strong middle class , about putting back into your community, about treating people decently, and not just maximizing profits for the very, very rich. it's a big wake-up call.
>> ruth connif and john nichols , great to have you with us tonight. happy thanksgiving.
>>> coming up, john mccain and lindsey graham 's libya conspiracy theories have been proven wrong every step of the way and they're not giving up. we'll try to straighten their points out when we come back on this crazy witch hunt .
>>> and later, the 2012 election is over, which means some republicans are already looking for ways to block the vote in 2016 . state senator nina turner of ohio joins know talk about john husted 's latest