Papa John's CEO Should Take a Pay Cut, Not Lay Off Workers

Papa John's CEO John Schnatter blames Obamacare for having to cut back, when personal responsibility says he should absorb the effects himself.

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John Schnatter, red shirt, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Papa John's International, Inc., cuts the ribbon for the opening of his 4000th restaurant on Friday Sept. 14, 2012, in New Hyde Park, N.Y. l-r: Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano (red tie), Executive Vice President of Papa John's Anthony Thompson, New Hyde Park franchise owner Peter Mehta, John Schnatter, Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaimen, NY Assemblyman Ed Ra, Town of North Hempstead Town Clerk Leslie Gross, President of the New Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce Mark Laytin, Nassau County Legislator Richard Nicolello, Secretary of the New Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce Jerry Badassaro and First Vice President of the New Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce Jeannette Frisina.

Papa John's CEO John Schnatter is going to cut his workers' hours, lay off workers, and increase the price of his pizzas by 11 to 14 cents. Why? Because the president was re-elected. More specifically, due to Obamacare. And he is not alone. Walmart is cutting hours, as is Denny's, and some other larger franchises like Red Lobster, Olive Garden, etc.

As with the companies mentioned above, those on the right want to blame the president, Democrats, Obamacare, etc.—yet they had layoffs or planned them as far back as 2009 and 2010. Were they all clairvoyant? Did they all know the president would be re-elected? And what if Mitt Romney had been elected? With more Democrats in the House and Senate, would the "repeal and replace" idea of Obamacare have succeeded? I think not.

[See a collection of political cartoons on healthcare.]

What these companies and their owners are missing is personal responsibility.

As the owner of two small businesses, when times were tough, I took a paycut—I did not reduce my employees' hours or their wages. How many zeros is in CEO John Schnatter's paycheck? Or that of the Walmart CEO? This is a company that even during the recession posted profits.

In California, the state I live in, businesses are required to pay for 50 percent of their employees' health benefits if the company has a group healthcare plan in place. This was long before Obamacare, long before the president was elected the first time around. And California's not alone—other states have similar things in place.

[Read the U.S. News Debate: Should Congress Repeal the Affordable Care Act?]

With Denny's, they have menus that offer $2/$4 and $6 items. Perhaps that offer didn't increase the number of people coming through the door; rather the consumers who already patronized Denny's were now just ordering items off the lower priced menu. 

And with Papa John's—the other day I was channel surfing. And there was Papa John's CEO John Schnatter standing alongside a professional athlete, pushing Papa John's pizza. I wonder how much that ad cost? Or the celebrity endorsement of his product? Add to that the fact that Schnatter has been a very vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act for over a year, and a major donor to the Romney campaign.

I have some advice for Schnatter. Pay your employees instead of celebrities. Pay your employees instead of endorsing candidates for president who lose. And lastly—funny—Pizza Hut, Domino's, and Little Caesar's pizza aren't cutting their hours or increasing their prices. Is it because of Obamacare? Or do they just make better pizza maybe?

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