It's Come to This: Obamacare Threatens White Castle
12:07 PM, Jul 6, 2010 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
Well, I guess now we know why Kal Penn left the administration. It wasn't because he suddenly realized he'd given up a plum regular role on a top-rated network TV show for a wholly unfulfilling career as a flack for Obama administration policies, which— let's face it— didn't give him nearly the energizing jolt of moral superiority that hanging Shepard Fairey posters did.
Nope, he left because the man whose career was launched by a fast-food slider chain could not countenance the War on White Castle. And, who can blame him?
IHOP will not be spared, either:
Could this be an attack orchestrated by lobbyists for Big Krystal? Or, is health care just a proxy front in Michelle Obama's war on fatties?
This article is just one of a thousand glimpses the post-Obamacare era has given us at the real costs of the plan we had to pass to "find out" what was in it.
The International Franchise Association opposed the law, saying, "Our message all along was to start over," and calling the bill "damaging to small businesses." The National Restaurant Association opposed the bill because it will, "impose tremendous burdens on America's restaurants and hurt our industry's ability to create and sustain jobs."
White House spokeswoman Nancy Ann DeParle characterized such concerns as a bunch of cranky big businessmen whining about their profit margins ("I understand that they don't like it and believe it will cut into their profits, but it is a relatively small contribution to defray costs to taxpayers."), but National Restaurant News painted a different picture in its April coverage of the health care battle, featuring many personal stories that were far more Main St. than Wall St.
Another reason some restauranteurs worried about the health care bill is that menu labeling mandates can be onerous. I would submit that this has more to do with their desire to stay in business than their alleged evil, greasy desire to fatten the American people. Adding new menu boards, drive-through menus, a menus is an expensive prospect, especially when even advocates of menu labeling can point to no evidence that it actually works.White Castle has been offering health care to its employees since 1924. It pays 70-90 percent of health-care costs for those employees. The company cannot be considered one of the health-care system's bad actors, even by the most ludicrous lefty's standards. But when good behavior is punished, you will not get more of it. Now, the company says it will consider dropping employee-based coverage and putting employees in federal exchanges— a scenario which, before Obamacare passed, was considered a paranoid right-wing talking point.
People and businesses act on incentives, and Congress has little to no idea what it incentivized when it passed this bill. That's pretty risky business in a bad economy, even if the law affected only the restaurant industry, which employs 10-12 percent of Americans in some fashion. Instead, this bill affects far more than that in a thousand ways we don't yet know. In the spirit of Nancy Pelosi's legislative philisophy, I guess we'll just keep "finding out," now that it's passed.In other Kal Penn news (yes, I'm as surprised as you that there's more), he's in a pretty good fight with Joel Stein of Time Magazine. Update: Apologies to my own colleague, Jonathan V. Last, who wrote up a similar item in May. I missed it while I was in Iraq. Though the local news coverage of the White Castle dilemma is new, the CEO's original comments were from this spring. Nonetheless, the many Kal Penn news junkies in our audience will no doubt be pleased with the depth of our coverage.