CKE Restaurants CEO: Nat'l minimum wage would be ineffective

Reaction to debate over hiking minimum wage


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," November 7, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: In the meantime, fancy Nancy finding some good news from Tuesday, in four states, no less, because that is how many approved measures to hike the minimum wage. And now Nancy Pelosi is urging Democrats to take this wage rage national.

To CKE Restaurant CEO Andy Puzder, who is getting a case, I guess, of left-wing indigestion.

Andy, what do you make of this?


CAVUTO: Those four stakes did in fact approve a hike, especially if someone else is going to pay for it you. But you argue everyone pays for it. Explain.

ANDREW PUZDER, PRESIDENT & CEO, CKE RESTAURANTS: Well, I think, first of all, Nancy Pelosi should stay focused on the minimum wage and ignore the economy, ignore ObamaCare, ignore energy, ignoring advising the tax code.

Just focus her party in the House on the minimum wage. Look, the minimum wage went up in four states. The president asked for a 40 percent increase from $7.25 to $10.10. No state, no state increased the minimum wage 40 percent or to $10.10. Two states increased to $8.50, one to $9, and Alaska went to $9.75. Nebraska and South Dakota were two of the states that made an increase.

Their unemployment rates are 3.4 percent and 3.6 percent. The states are the right place. That is the right place. If you have a state with a very consistent demographic base, that is a good level at which to look at these minimum wage increase issues. A national minimum wage would be ineffective. Different states need to treat this differently. So, if that is what she wants to focus on, I think that's a great idea for her and the party. I would encourage them to do that.

CAVUTO: But I think what she is saying or what she is trying to pounce on is this idea that however angry voters were at Democrats, there is a bit of a populist streak in them on this issue.

Now, I have had business leaders in here, Andrew, who said that they don't know if the president's planned move to take it to $10.10 over a few years is the trick, but many have said, if not that at level, some other level, do increase it, index it to inflation and stop the debate and the theater around this.

What do you think of that?

PUZDER: I absolutely agree with that. I actually had an article in The Journal that made the same point.

You can increase it, but increase it in an amount that businesses can absorb, either through absorbing it through their P&L or absorbing it through pricing. I would exclude -- if I were raising the minimum wage, I would exclude people under the age of 22 initially, so that we can keep creating jobs, those entry-level jobs.

And I would do it on a state-by-state -- even better, do it on a municipal base.

CAVUTO: Interesting.

PUZDER: Let cities do it.

CAVUTO: Very interesting. All right.

PUZDER: There's really no problem with increasing. It's the 40 percent that was -- everybody went nuts about. You just can't absorb that.

CAVUTO: Yes, not that quickly.


Andy Puzder, thank you, my friend. Appreciate it.

PUZDER: Thank you.

CAVUTO: All right.

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