CKE Restaurants CEO: Incentives Needed for Business to Grow

Andy Puzder on job creation, credit downgrade


NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF “YOUR WORLD”: The Fed, meanwhile, pointing to weakness in the job market for one of the big reasons it will keep rates super low for at least the next two years.

Is that worrying my next guest? Andy Puzder is the CEO of CKE Restaurants. It operates, among others, Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. He’s hiring right now.

And you don’t see anything dissuading you in that?

ANDREW PUZDER, PRESIDENT & CEO, CKE RESTAURANTS: No, I -- I -- I think this actually -- holding the interest rate steady actually adds a little bit certainty to the market, to the business community.

We’ve got uncertainty on taxes. The president keeps talking about raising them. We’ve got uncertainty with Obamacare coming in, going to drive the cost of employing people full-time way up. We’ve got uncertainty with the growth of regulations. They just seem to grow. They never seem to go away.

So this at least gives business something to kind of hang their hat on that is not going to change and that is positive.

CAVUTO: But what he is saying as well is the reason he can be certain -- whatever certain is in Washington these days...


CAVUTO: ... to keep the rates low is because he’s fairly certain I guess the economy will be kind of limping along for two years. Do you agree with that?

PUZDER: Well, I think there’s really no sign that I can see that the economy is going to pick up in the short term.

You would really need some change in policy. As I said, you cannot keep telling business people I will raise your taxes and then expect them to invest their money. You invest your after-tax income. You can’t tell them that Obamacare is coming in and the cost of employing people will go up, but we want you to employ people. You need to do things that incentivize business to grow and to hire.

CAVUTO: But what happened?

PUZDER: It’s really very simple.

CAVUTO: The last couple of weeks, I sensed that something changed, beyond the debt debate, beyond the downgrade, that there was -- not that the floor was giving way, but it was getting soft and that all of a sudden consumers who had been busily spending didn’t entirely close their wallets, but picked out the lower marked bills.

PUZDER: Right.

I think -- actually, I think the S&P rating had more of an impact than a lot of people have given it credit for. It wasn’t so much that they told us anything new. It’s like a guy who smokes. And he thinks he may have cancer and the doctor tells him he has cancer. Well, once he hears it from the doctor, then it becomes more of a reality.

We have problems in this country with our debt. We have problems with the functioning of government. We have problems with the ability of the business community to build in this environment. And I think S&P really kind of put the cap on that, kind of recognized that.

CAVUTO: Yet here you are busily expanding and moving to Texas and doing all this other stuff, and been busy hiring. Any of this give you pause?

PUZDER: A lot of it gives me pause. And this is why I agree to come on shows likes yours, to say to the government, look, stop.

American entrepreneurs, American business men and women are being held back. They’re just being suppressed by all this government activity. If they would just step back, let go, and let the private sector solve these problems, I think you’d see unemployment would go down, you’d see the economy come back, and everybody wouldn’t be talking about Mitt Romney. They’d be talking about what is going to happen in the next election.

So it’s...


CAVUTO: By the way, Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, inching ever so close now to a presidential run.

Did his political fortunes one way or the other influence you in making a move to Texas?

PUZDER: Well, actually, the governor called me about 18 months ago to thank me for building restaurants in Texas. No governor has ever done that before.

I think Rick Perry is a wonderful guy. I think the difficulty is he’s getting into this kind of late. We’ve got a strong economic candidate who has been running for president for five years, has a lot of money built up...

CAVUTO: Talking about Mitt Romney.

PUZDER: ... appeals to independents. So we’ve got a good guy. And I like -- I’ll tell you, I like Rick Perry a lot. I think...

CAVUTO: But Mitt Romney’s your guy.

PUZDER: Mitt’s the guy.

CAVUTO: OK. Interesting. All right.

Andy Puzder, thank you very, very much.

PUZDER: Thank you, Neil.

CAVUTO: Good seeing you again.

PUZDER: Appreciate it.

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