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Applebee's CEO and Millionare Zane Tankel vs. Working Americans

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Monday, 12 November 2012 14:39

Republicans want us to think millionaire Zane Tankel, the CEO of Applebee’s New York Franchise and owner of forty Applebee’s restaurants, is a “job creator.” But after Tankel went on the Fox Business network last week, we know him for who he really is: a Scrooge who can’t be bothered to give his employees health insurance.

Since voters last Tuesday rejected House Republicans attempts to repeal Obamacare, it is now – to quote Speaker of the House John Boehner - “law of the land.” That means beginning in 2014 corporations across America that employ more than 50 people will have a new civic responsibility under the law to provide health insurance for their workers. This is the employer-mandate at work.

Health insurance is not a luxury in America. Obamacare isn’t forcing employers to give their workers a new big screen TV or monthly spa treatments. The law simply recognizes that 45,000 Americans die every year because they don’t have health insurance and that large employers – those that employ 50 or more people – are best equipped to be the source of life-saving medical care for millions of working Americans. It’s an idea first proposed by that “socialist” who wanted to take over America’s healthcare system back in 1971…Richard Nixon.

In fact, providing health insurance to employees is a good business decision. It not only attracts more qualified workers, but also leads to higher job retention rates and higher employee satisfaction.

But don’t tell Zane Tankel that – he’s outraged. Since he employs more than 50 people, he will now be required to provide health insurance to his workers, which many of his competitors and small businesses already do. If Tankel wants to keep screwing his employees, then he’ll have to pay a $2,000 free-loader fine for every worker who’ll now have to rely on government programs like Medicaid to get the care they need.

Appearing on Fox Business, Tankel said, “We’ve calculated it will be some millions of dollars across our system…that also rolls back expansion, it rolls back hiring more people, and in best-case scenario we only shrink the labor force minimally.”

Poor Zane Tankel says that if he’s forced to give his employees health insurance, then he’s going to have to fire some of them first. A hundred years ago, he’d likely have said the same thing about bathroom breaks for his employees, having 12-year-olds run his fryers, or letting food inspectors into his restaurants.

The vast majority of Americans have clearly conclude that if a business owner can’t run his business in the best interests of the community and its workers, which includes providing health insurance, then he or she doesn’t deserve to run a business.

There used to be a business ethic in America that put the community ahead of profit. It goes back to when Henry Ford wanted to pay his workers enough so that they, too, could afford the Model T’s they were producing. It’s a business ethic that was enforced by law when state governments could – and often did – revoke the corporate charters of businesses that were operating against the best interests of the community.

But that ethic has been replaced by Wall Street’s “greed is good” ethic, which finds its roots in Victorian England and stories like “A Christmas Carol,” where working people are condemned to Bob Cratchit poverty, forced to toil long hours under modern-day Ebenezer Scrooges, with crappy pay and no benefits.

Charles Dickens – whose father once went to debtor’s prison – would have blown his lunch at the idea of Ebenezer Scrooge being honored with a title like “job creator.” And now Fox is treating Zane Tankel as if he, and not his customers, is a “job creator”?

Tankel claims the math just doesn’t add up to be able to provide health insurance to his employees, without firing some of them first. “There’s three ways it has to come back,” Tankel said about the money needed to pay for health insurance. “[M]ore efficiencies, reduce overhead, or raise prices. Let’s look at each…we can’t raise prices…hopefully we’ve got all our efficiencies…so then, it’s cut back on overhead.” As in, let’s either fire people or pay them even less.

Tankel doesn’t want to admit he actually has more than three ways to pay for health insurance. He can cut his own salary. He can also reduce the dividends he pays to his stockholders. The math is there, but Tankel would have to reconsider his own greed. And since Scrooge wouldn’t do those things, neither will Tankel.

Tankel is also stupidly acting as if he’s the only one who’ll be affected by Obamacare. All big businesses will have to cover their employees’ health insurance now, so whatever business hit Applebee’s takes will also be felt by his competitors. He is at no disadvantage whatsoever.

But on outlets like Fox Business, the victims of this insane right-wing thinking aren’t the 45,000 Americans who die every year because they don’t have health insurance. Instead, the victims are millionaires like Zane Tankel who will have to sacrifice some of their bottom line to keep their employees healthy. As one of the Fox Business talking heads asks Tankel, “Is this the most challenging time you’ve ever seen because of the regulations?”

To which Tankel agreed.

Unlike what you hear on the Conservative media outlets, President Obama hasn’t deployed his brown shirts to confiscate private property and redistribute Zane Tankel’s wealth. He hasn’t choked out the private sector with big government regulations.

In fact, corporate profits under President Obama are astronomically high. The average annual real corporate profit growth rate since President Obama took office is 77.9% - making him the best President for corporate profits since 1900. In second place is Warren Harding who ran on a campaign platform in 1920 of “less government in business, more business in government,” and corporate profits only surged 17.7% during his term.

President Obama has been corporate America’s best friend. And after swimming in astronomically high profits, corporations are now being asked to reinvest some of that wealth back into their employees by providing them health insurance. It’s the very least they can do.

And, seriously, do you really want to eat at a restaurant filled with sick employees?

So-called “job creators” like Zane Tankel have to understand that the letters C-E-O in front of their names do not give them the right to abuse workers, or exploit them as political pawns. Those letters indicate that they do business in our communities because “we the people” gave them permission to do so, and we can revoke that permission any time, if we so choose.

Corporations, as President Grover Cleveland famously said in 1888, should be the “carefully restrained creatures of law and the servants of the people.”

Zane – take a course in American history. And pay special attention to that part about the rights of workers. We ended slavery and indentured servitude in this country, and we’ve decided that working people are entitled to be treated decently in the workplace. Even if it means that Papa John’s founder John Schnatter may not be able to add another guesthouse onto his castle.




SAM SACKS

Sam Sacks is a Progressive Commentator and former Democratic staffer on Capitol Hill. He is currently the Senior Producer of The Big Picture with Thom Hartmann airing weeknights at 7PM EST on RT and Free Speech TV.

THOM HARTMANN

Thom Hartmann is a New York Times bestselling Project Censored Award winning author and host of a nationally syndicated progressive radio talk show. You can learn more about Thom Hartmann at his websiteand find out what stations broadcast his radio program. He also now has a daily independent television program, The Big Picture,  syndicated by FreeSpeech TV, RT TV, and 2oo community TV stations.  You can also listen or watch Thom over the Internet.
 
 



 
 

by on Nov. 13, 2012 at 1:44 AM
Replies (11-20):
romalove
by Roma on Nov. 13, 2012 at 6:41 AM
2 moms liked this

 

Quoting turtle68:

 

Quoting romalove:

 

Quoting turtle68:

 

Quoting kailu1835:

It is common sense.  It will cost employers more to give everyone health insurance so they will opt to pay the fine instead.  This is nothing new, and doesn't mean that the employer is evil, it's just the facts.  People are going to lose their jobs over this because it isn't something every employer can afford.

 How much is a average health insurance opposed to the fine?  does paying the levy through your taxes help buy you that insurance?

I dont understand...if you have and can pay for your health insurance through taxes...why do the employers need to pay for it?

 No, if you pay the fine, you aren't getting insurance.  The idea is that you're funding paying for your healthcare if you get sick and don't pay for.  Right now many people without healthcare go to emergency rooms and use them like a free clinic, which they aren't, and then don't pay the bills (you can be billed separately by the hospital itself, and then any doctors you see).  The tax fines are supposed to be in a fund to pay off those debts that people incur and don't pay. 

The fine for businesses of greater than 50 employees who don't have full time employees covered is I think $2000 per employee per year.  The employer must pay this even if the employee refuses the insurance.  If you make $10 an hour and the insurance costs $300 a month, you can see many of those employees refusing the insurance, because they can't afford it.  The employer is screwed regardless.  This is why many who are near that 50 cutoff may lay off employees, or cut hours to reduce the number of full time employees they have to worry about giving health insurance to.

The ACA is a mess and will cost many people their jobs.  Whether or not the Applebee's CEO is an evil overlord, there are tons and tons of small and medium sized businesses in America, run by people without the financial clout of a major corporation CEO, who will struggle with paying for insurances, paying fines, or reducing workstaff.  That's the reality.

 so the tax being imposed by Obamacare is not for health insurance but to pay bills incurred by those who dont have health insurance?

what is the bronze insurance they are talking about in the tax tier system?

So the employer can offer insurance that an employee cannot afford and pay the fine instead.  Didnt Obamacare offer a cheap insurance...wouldnt that be an option for the employer instead of paying the fine?

 

 We don't have the ACA insurance coverages available yet, they are supposed to have exchanges I think in 2014 where you can select from plans at different levels.  That's why there is a "bronze" insurance, there will be higher levels too.  Employers try and get insurance that they can afford, but it is very variable by area and expensive even at low levels.  I am in NJ, for instance, and the cheapest health insurance I can find, which essentially pays hospital bills for up to 90 days after a big deductible, but gives only $600 in doctor care per year, no coverage for prescriptions, no coverage for tests and Xrays, etc., a very bare bones almost no coverage insurance, will cost me almost $700 a month for my family of two adults and a 16 year old.  To get anything better will cost me almost $1,000 a month.  The cost of the fine is far cheaper, but will make me pay for not having insurance, and still pay out of pocket for all my medical care. 

The problem with your last paragraph is, the employee can still refuse the insurance and decide they can't afford it.  If you make minimum wage, you are living minute to minute and don't want to take on ANY new bill, especially if you're a young person or single.  I know it took a lot of urging on my part to get my son to take the medical coverage where he works because he's in his 20's, single, and can't imagine needing the coverage. 

It's a bad law.

gsprofval
by Silver Member on Nov. 13, 2012 at 6:44 AM
2 moms liked this

The bottom line is that employers can't afford either obamacare OR the fines for no health insurance.  Then employees can't afford obamacare OR the fines either.

Both sides are screwed no matter what because obummercare just isn't going to work for any one, so do you want a flathead or Phillips screwdriver?

Quoting turtle68:

 

Quoting romalove:

 

Quoting turtle68:

 

Quoting kailu1835:

It is common sense.  It will cost employers more to give everyone health insurance so they will opt to pay the fine instead.  This is nothing new, and doesn't mean that the employer is evil, it's just the facts.  People are going to lose their jobs over this because it isn't something every employer can afford.

 How much is a average health insurance opposed to the fine?  does paying the levy through your taxes help buy you that insurance?

I dont understand...if you have and can pay for your health insurance through taxes...why do the employers need to pay for it?

 No, if you pay the fine, you aren't getting insurance.  The idea is that you're funding paying for your healthcare if you get sick and don't pay for.  Right now many people without healthcare go to emergency rooms and use them like a free clinic, which they aren't, and then don't pay the bills (you can be billed separately by the hospital itself, and then any doctors you see).  The tax fines are supposed to be in a fund to pay off those debts that people incur and don't pay. 

The fine for businesses of greater than 50 employees who don't have full time employees covered is I think $2000 per employee per year.  The employer must pay this even if the employee refuses the insurance.  If you make $10 an hour and the insurance costs $300 a month, you can see many of those employees refusing the insurance, because they can't afford it.  The employer is screwed regardless.  This is why many who are near that 50 cutoff may lay off employees, or cut hours to reduce the number of full time employees they have to worry about giving health insurance to.

The ACA is a mess and will cost many people their jobs.  Whether or not the Applebee's CEO is an evil overlord, there are tons and tons of small and medium sized businesses in America, run by people without the financial clout of a major corporation CEO, who will struggle with paying for insurances, paying fines, or reducing workstaff.  That's the reality.

 so the tax being imposed by Obamacare is not for health insurance but to pay bills incurred by those who dont have health insurance?

what is the bronze insurance they are talking about in the tax tier system?

So the employer can offer insurance that an employee cannot afford and pay the fine instead.  Didnt Obamacare offer a cheap insurance...wouldnt that be an option for the employer instead of paying the fine?

 

 

romalove
by Roma on Nov. 13, 2012 at 6:46 AM
1 mom liked this

 And one more thing.

For many years we had medical professionals who charged what they charged, saw their patients, built practices, and some people who had insurance.  Those medical professionals were villified as being selfish and greedy and people couldn't afford to go to the doctor.

So, we got HMO's, which were supposed to make things better.  Doctors were given much less money per patient, they were given stipends for having patients on their rolls each month whether they were in the office or not, so once a month a check from the insurance company, and then either no charges or tiny charges to the patients.  Doctors, who still have to pay for malpractice insurance, other insurances on their buildings and practices, staff, materials, school loans, etc., and of course still make a living, responded by reducing the time they spent with each patient and turning offices into mills, in and out.  There was a reduction of care but an increase in the size of the insurance companies, who micromanaged everything to keep costs down.  Not much savings for the patients, who were now paying the insurance companies instead of the doctors, and less service for patients.

Now we have ACA.  This is going to reduce employment, cost a lot of money to individuals and businesses, and still leave many people uninsured. 

Unless we attack the malpractice insurance monster, and the for profit insurance monster, neither of which are addressed in ACA, we are going to be paying and paying for less and less.

 

Suzukigirl710
by Member on Nov. 13, 2012 at 6:59 AM

Question:  those people who chose not to take the insurance coverage through their emplyer, will they have to pay the fine also at the end of the year? That's the way I understood it.  So the business and the employee (if they choose not to take it) will both pay the $2000 at the end of the year?

romalove
by Roma on Nov. 13, 2012 at 7:07 AM

 

Quoting Suzukigirl710:

Question:  those people who chose not to take the insurance coverage through their emplyer, will they have to pay the fine also at the end of the year? That's the way I understood it.  So the business and the employee (if they choose not to take it) will both pay the $2000 at the end of the year?

 An individual without coverage will pay differently.  Depending on their AGI and the year (it goes up for three years and then levels off) they could pay just a few hundred dollars or up to a couple of grand.

One of the parts of the law has to do with if you cannot get affordable insurance and it has to do with how much money you earn and where you live.  Some employees who don't take insurance because they can't afford it will be exempt.

Employers will not be exempt.

Suzukigirl710
by Member on Nov. 13, 2012 at 7:14 AM

So under this Affordable Healthcare Act, there will be some that still cannot afford it.  Which I think some will be more than just a few.  So really it'snot serving it's purpose as a whole.  I do think we will see alot of people lose their jobs from this.  People will still use the ER as a clinic.  It seems to me this new bill was made to cover expenses that the uninsured have incurred over the years and years to come.  I understand that some will get coverage that need it, but a lot of people still won't be able to afford it.

Quoting romalove:

 

Quoting Suzukigirl710:

Question:  those people who chose not to take the insurance coverage through their emplyer, will they have to pay the fine also at the end of the year? That's the way I understood it.  So the business and the employee (if they choose not to take it) will both pay the $2000 at the end of the year?

 An individual without coverage will pay differently.  Depending on their AGI and the year (it goes up for three years and then levels off) they could pay just a few hundred dollars or up to a couple of grand.

One of the parts of the law has to do with if you cannot get affordable insurance and it has to do with how much money you earn and where you live.  Some employees who don't take insurance because they can't afford it will be exempt.

Employers will not be exempt.


romalove
by Roma on Nov. 13, 2012 at 7:33 AM

 

Quoting Suzukigirl710:

So under this Affordable Healthcare Act, there will be some that still cannot afford it.  Which I think some will be more than just a few.  So really it'snot serving it's purpose as a whole.  I do think we will see alot of people lose their jobs from this.  People will still use the ER as a clinic.  It seems to me this new bill was made to cover expenses that the uninsured have incurred over the years and years to come.  I understand that some will get coverage that need it, but a lot of people still won't be able to afford it.

Quoting romalove:

 

Quoting Suzukigirl710:

Question:  those people who chose not to take the insurance coverage through their emplyer, will they have to pay the fine also at the end of the year? That's the way I understood it.  So the business and the employee (if they choose not to take it) will both pay the $2000 at the end of the year?

 An individual without coverage will pay differently.  Depending on their AGI and the year (it goes up for three years and then levels off) they could pay just a few hundred dollars or up to a couple of grand.

One of the parts of the law has to do with if you cannot get affordable insurance and it has to do with how much money you earn and where you live.  Some employees who don't take insurance because they can't afford it will be exempt.

Employers will not be exempt.

 

 Yes.  And, additionally, there are many undocumenteds who are also using the system, especially the emergency rooms, for routine and emergency care both.  They will not be addressed in this system at all, will continue on using the system and not having to pay.

Donna6503
by Platinum Member on Nov. 13, 2012 at 7:46 AM
Thom Hartman, is one of the best progressive thinker of our time. I recommend him highly.

Still, the point about 45,000 Americans die each year because of a lack of health insurance, is a number based on a highly speculative Keynesian economic model. My point being, these type of numeric expression to mean they're hardcore facts, doesn't improve the debate. We need to get clarification of "facts" before we debate.
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rfurlongg
by on Nov. 13, 2012 at 7:49 AM
3 moms liked this
If Applebee's were a small company or a start up, I would totally understand Mr Tankel's position. However Applebee's is a huge international company who consistently turns a profit; usually double the profits of it's closest competitor, Chili's. Mr. Tankle is being a tight fisted, unproductive, Scourge. If he were working to use his influence to help re-work this aspect of the ACA, I would have greater respect.
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lga1965
by on Nov. 13, 2012 at 7:58 AM
2 moms liked this
No, nobody will lose their job if their employer knows the best way to run his company. Health care can work.

Quoting kailu1835:

It is common sense.  It will cost employers more to give everyone health insurance so they will opt to pay the fine instead.  This is nothing new, and doesn't mean that the employer is evil, it's just the facts.  People are going to lose their jobs over this because it isn't something every employer can afford.

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