Andy Puzder: CEO Assessments Will Shape U.S. Economy, Mid-Term Election Results

Andy Pudzer
Whether they support Trump or loathe him, CEOs will play an important role in consolidating and building on the gains in the U.S. economy. In turn, this will shape the mid-term elections, says former CKE Restaurants CEO and labor secretary nominee Andy Puzder.
Andy Pudzer
Andy Pudzer

Andy Puzder, President Trump’s first nominee for labor secretary, says that the economy will continue to grow and build on itself and help Republicans on Capitol Hill beat back the Democratic threat in mid-term elections in November.

Puzder, former CEO of CKE Restaurants, says that CEOs have emerged as important players in whatever happens. Many business leaders can’t stand Trump, of course, and don’t want to see Republicans succeed even in sparking the U.S. economy. But Puzder believes that CEOs of small and medium-sized companies, especially, comprise a crucial constituency of support.

“These [chiefs] often are happy to the point of being ecstatic with Trump’s policies,” Puzder said. “Look at gauges of optimism such as by the [National Federation of Independent Businesses] and manufacturers.”

Of course, Puzder is far from middle-of-the road, heavily backing Trump and his policies even though his appointment as the president’s first nominee for Secretary of Labor got derailed early last year.

Puzder acknowledged that many big-company CEOs aren’t rooting for Trump, even as their companies enjoy frothy sales, profits and stock prices. He alleged that is because “many of their companies are raking in fortunes from crony-capitalist programs, such as big banks.”

Moreover, Puzder said CEOs of big companies are under more public pressure either to criticize the president or to refrain from supporting him. “They have clientele that are very opposed to Mr. Trump, and they can get criticized severely by the press or entertainment figures if they are seen to side with him,” Puzder said. “Some CEOs may be keeping quiet because they don’t want to offend their customer base. There’s a lot of moving pieces here.”

At the same time, Puzder realizes that the engagement of the broad community of CEOs is crucial for consolidating and building on the gains in the U.S. economy. That means chiefs must “invest in their businesses,” he told Chief Executive. “Investing in new plants and equipment is crucial. Use the extra money to grow and create more jobs, then go out and hire the best people by offering competitive salaries and benefits.

“These [chiefs] often are happy to the point of being ecstatic with Trump’s policies. Look at gauges of optimism such as by the [National Federation of Independent Businesses] and manufacturers.”

“Reward the workers [you] already have with increased compensation to show them that when companies are unshackled from government regulation and taxation allowed to profit, everyone wins.”

Puzder believes that progressive politicians will discredit themselves with rank-and-file American voters if they continue criticize the growing economy, rising unemployment and increasing incomes on the basis that it’s inequitable – or not enough.

“It’s a question of whether or not the American people can cut through the bologna in the mainstream media about the economy and realize they’re better off than they’ve been in a decade,” said Puzder, author of the new book, The Capitalist Comeback: The Trump Boom and the Left’s Plot to Stop It.

As chief of Carpinteria, Calif.-based CKE, parent of the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. fast-food brands, Puzder presided over strong growth in the company. He also was outspoken as a CEO about Obama-era policies and regulations that he said were discouraging chiefs and companies from investing in the U.S. economy to foster growth.

Such an approach helped doom Puzder’s nomination as labor secretary early in the Trump administration, as Democrats dug up personal allegations that eventually also caused Republican opposition.

But Puzder insisted that congressional Democrats remain “on the wrong side of history” both in carping about the way in which the economy is growing and in resisting Trump policies such as the Republican-led tax cuts in December, which Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi criticized as “crumbs.”

American workers’ personal experience with improved job security and better personal finances will be supplemented by further positive economic reports in the months to come, Puzder opined, such as one more reading of the quarterly Gross Domestic Product, before the November elections.

Read more: Ten CEO Concerns That Could Kill The Economic Boom


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