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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 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 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 (91-93):
by on Nov. 14, 2012 at 11:12 AM

the employer pays 50% and than you 50% for insurance but if you have a complicated illness you will have to pay out of pocket. you google just like me that is were I found this fact!

Quoting mehamil1:

I don't think you understand how their system works. 

Quoting gammie:

They pay a lot for their insurance and if the have a complicated illness they will pay more!

Quoting mehamil1:

Germany and the Scandinavian countries are doing just fine. Seriously. 

Quoting gammie:

The rest of the countries are saying they are broke!

Quoting mehamil1:

Let's look at how the rest of the world does it without screwing themselves over and model it after that. Germany and the scandinavian countries have excellent health care and they are not wallowing in debt. 

It's time that we got over the money aspect and valued ourselves and each other enough to actually support caring for each other because it's the right thing to do. 

Quoting gammie:

But you do need to know how it's going to be paid and who will get hurt. It could be you that loses your job?  and can you pay 60% of your earnings for this? this is how much country's over seas pay for their HC and other benefits.

Quoting mehamil1:

I'm all for universal healthcare. Enough with this insurance/job nonsense. 

by Ruby Member on Nov. 15, 2012 at 6:15 PM

I would venture to guess I probably know more about the bill than you do.  I used my husband as example because it's the situation I am currently living.  You will notice that I used ifs in my example.  Just because my husband would not currently be required to offer insurance does not negate the fact that it is less expensive to pay the fine than to carry the insurance.  There is a company in the next town over that my husband is friends with the owner of (I've read that twice and it doesn't sound right but whatever).  They have just under 70 employees.  He laid off 10 people to be able to afford insurance for the rest, because the insurance rates are going up.  He said he had two choices.  He could keep all his employees and pay the fines, or lay off 10 people and carry insurance for the rest.  He was already carrying partial coverage, and didn't want to take it away from his employees if he could help it.  Oh, and that thing about getting to keep your insurance?  Yeah, that's turning out to be nothing more than a myth.

Quoting LauraKW:

Why did you give a hypothetical example where you knew you would be wrong? Wait, you didn't know, did you?

Quoting kailu1835:

It's a hypothetical example, and if you think it won't eventually get there as well you'd be mistaken.

Quoting LauraKW:

 A business with an owner and 2-3 full time employees would not be required to provide health insurance. 

Quoting kailu1835:

I'm talking about buying insurance for myself, not providing it to someone else.  My husband's business, it seems like we're paying out the nose in taxes, even with all the deductions we are allowed.  When I met him, he had 2 full time employees with 1 floater.  He was making around 15% profit margin.  The employees had decided to use an HSA for their insurance, that he did not have to provide, but was willing to help with.  He put a little in every paycheck to match what they were putting in.  When the economy started tanking, he recommended they both look for work with a bigger firm, because he was going to have to start reducing costs... his profit margin narrowed to just over 5% before both employees were able to find work elsewhere.  It was a difficult decision for him, since they'd been faithful employees for 10 years, but he didn't really have any other choice.  If he'd been paying for the insurance at the level that the government now expects, he would have been in the negative every single month until the company, and we, went bankrupt.  It would have been cheaper for him to pay the fine, but he still would have likely gone under.

The new insurance regulations will not hurt big corporations much.  It will bankrupt small businesses, and yes, 50 employees is a small business.

Quoting LauraKW:

 Even taking into account the amount of the tax credits you won't be able to provide insurance?  You may already be aware but the tax credits increase in 2014, and the premiums you pay (as well as what the employees pay) is still tax deductible as well.  If you feel comfortable sharing, can you tell us more about the number of employees and your costs for insurance?  Understand if that is information you aren't comfortable sharing on the internet :).

Quoting kailu1835:

Employers are required to offer health insurance.  When I looked up how much I would have to pay for insurance, as well as what the fine would be if I didn't, the fine is cheaper.

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?



babiesbabybaby development

by Silver Member on Nov. 15, 2012 at 6:26 PM

So I found out today that if I don't have health insurance, the tax/fine will be $1200. If I can't afford health insurance now, how the hell can I afford to pay the fine--assuming I don't get put in jail, too.

I call the whole obummercar crap a load of BS; it makes no sense at all.

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.



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