Trump pick to head La­bor De­part­ment alarms Democrats.

Democrats boo Puzder, small busi­nesses cheer

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY S.A. MILLER

A frus­trat­ing week for Democrats grew more vex­ing Thurs­day when Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump an­nounced he would put a fast-food ex­ec­u­tive in charge of the La­bor De­part­ment, the lat­est Cabi­net pick to run afoul of lib­eral sen­si­bil­i­ties.

Mr. Trump said his se­lec­tion of Andy Puzder, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the com­pany that owns fast-food chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., was the lat­est pick to set off alarm bells for Democrats who fear the next ad­min­is­tra­tion will undo much of Pres­i­dent Obama’s legacy.

Mr. Trump said he was putting a proven job cre­ator in the driver’s seat at the La­bor De­part­ment.

“Andy Puzder has cre­ated and boosted the ca­reers of thou­sands of Amer­i­cans, and his ex­ten­sive record fight­ing for work­ers makes him the ideal can­di­date to lead the De­part­ment of La­bor,” Mr. Trump said in a state­ment.

“Andy will fight to make Amer­i­can work­ers safer and more pros­per­ous by en­forc­ing fair oc­cu­pa­tional safety stan­dards and en­sur­ing work­ers re­ceive the ben­e­fits they de­serve, and he will save small busi­nesses from the crush­ing bur­dens of un­nec­es­sary reg­u­la­tions that are stunt­ing job growth and sup­press­ing wages,” he said.

Mr. Puzder, who was one of Mr. Trump’s most fer­vent sup­porter in the busi­ness world and a fundraiser for the cam­paign, said he looked for­ward to help­ing “re­store Amer­ica’s global eco­nomic lead­er­ship.”

“The Pres­i­dent-elect be­lieves, as do I, that the right govern­ment poli­cies can re­sult in more jobs and bet­ter wages for the Amer­i­can worker. I’m proud to be of­fered the chance to serve in his Ad­min­is­tra­tion,” he said.

Democrats took a de­cid­edly dif­fer­ent view. “The La­bor Sec­re­tary should be some­one who wakes up ev­ery day think­ing about how they can raise Amer­i­can wages and fight for Amer­i­can work­ers. Mr. Puzder’s ca­reer has shown ex­actly the op­po­site,” fumed Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Demo­crat and in­com­ing Se­nate mi­nor­ity leader.

“Turn­ing the La­bor De­part­ment over to some­one who op­poses an in­crease in the min­i­mum wage, op­poses the over­time rule that would raise mid­dle class wages, and whose busi­nesses have re­peat­edly vi­o­lated la­bor laws might be the surest sign yet that the next cabi­net will be look­ing out for the bil­lion­aires and spe­cial in­ter­ests, in­stead of Amer­ica’s work­ing class,” he said.

The re­ac­tion among Democrats was sim­i­lar to the out­rage a day ear­lier when it was re­vealed that Mr. Trump would nom­i­nate Ok­la­homa At­tor­ney Gen­eral Scott Pruitt to lead the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, the same agency he re­peat­edly sued to block Pres­i­dent Obama’s cli­mate change agenda.

The lib­eral Cen­ter for Amer­i­can Progress la­beled Mr. Puzder the “anti-la­bor sec­re­tary” and de­scribed him as a “su­pervil­lain.”

“He’s against rais­ing the min­i­mum wage and the new rule to en­sure peo­ple get paid over­time. He’s anti-worker and anti-ACA. He blames low-wage work­ers for poverty and sup­ports re­plac­ing work­ers with ma­chines,” the group’s po­lit­i­cal ac­tion arm said in an email to sup­port­ers. “In other words, he op­poses al­most ev­ery­thing the De­part­ment of La­bor was cre­ated to do.”

Sierra Club Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Michael Brune said Mr. Puzder was bad for work­ers and the en­vi­ron­ment be­cause he was the prod­uct of a busi­ness model that ex­ploits both.

“Trump’s nom­i­na­tion of Andrew Puzder as La­bor Sec­re­tary con­tin­ues his long line of back­wards nom­i­nees fo­cused on pro­tect­ing cor­po­rate in­ter­ests over the health, safety, and pros­per­ity of the Amer­i­can peo­ple,” said Mr. Brune.

The anger over the nom­i­na­tions has been in­ten­si­fied by Se­nate Democrats’ likely in­abil­ity to block con­fir­ma­tion, a predica­ment they brought upon them­selves. In 2013, they re­sorted to the “nu­clear op­tion” rule change that re­quired a sim­ple ma­jor­ity 51 votes to con­firm nom­i­na­tions rather than the pre­vi­ously re­quired 60-vote su­per­ma­jor­ity.

The changed al­lowed Democrats, then in the ma­jor­ity, to push through Mr. Obama’s nom­i­nees. But now Repub­li­cans are the ma­jor­ity party and Mr. Trump is mov­ing into the White House.

Mr. Puzder runs Cal­i­for­nia-based CKE Res­tau­rants. He has been a fierce free-mar­ket ad­vo­cate and spo­ken out against bur­den­some fed­eral reg­u­la­tions, which Mr. Trump has vowed to roll back as pres­i­dent.

He has op­posed lib­er­als’ push to more than dou­ble the fed­eral min­i­mum wage to $15, which he says would kill jobs, es­pe­cially for young peo­ple, though he also said he doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily op­pose ev­ery raise in the wage, or in­dex­ing it to in­fla­tion.

Busi­ness groups ap­plauded the nom­i­na­tion. David French, the chief lob­by­ist at the Na­tional Re­tail Fed­er­a­tion, called Mr. Puzder “some­one with the real-world ex­pe­ri­ence to un­der­stand work­force is­sues and how jobs are cre­ated.”

“Ca­reers in re­tail and res­tau­rants of­fer a path for­ward for mil­lions of Amer­i­cans, and hir­ing an em­ployer from this sec­tor for the im­por­tant role of la­bor sec­re­tary would show that Pres­i­dent-elect Trump knows the value of these op­por­tu­ni­ties,” he said.

The Job Creators Net­work, a non­par­ti­san busi­ness as­so­ci­a­tion of which Mr. Puzder is a mem­ber, said he would be a win for busi­ness own­ers and the peo­ple they em­ploy.

“Puzder’s un­der­stand­ing of la­bor mar­kets and job cre­ation stand in stark con­trast to the ex­ist­ing La­bor De­part­ment, which has taken a hos­tile ap­proach to small busi­ness job creators with its sup­port for dra­matic min­i­mum wage and over­time ex­emp­tion in­creases, a joint-em­ployer man­date, a black­list­ing rule, and manda­tory paid time off reg­u­la­tions — to name a few,” said Al­fredo Or­tiz, pres­i­dent of the group.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump has tapped fast-food ex­ec­u­tive Andy Puzder to lead the De­part­ment of La­bor. Democrats have raised alarm bells over the pick, but busi­ness groups have cheered the nom­i­na­tion.

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