Papa John's Owner Slammed by Liberals for Stating He'll Pass on ObamaCare Costs to Customers

In what is likely to become a common occurrence as ObamaCare takes effect, the owner of another nationwide business is under fire from liberals, this time for passing on the extra health care costs to customers instead of absorbing them and increasing the company's operating expenses.

Papa John's Pizza CEO John Schnatter was the subject of a segment on Monday night's edition of The Ed Show on MSNBC even though the businessman did not appear on the program.

Host Ed Schultz noted that Schnatter said: "ObamaCare is so costly, his employees will pay the price" through the reduction in the number of hours full-time employees work each week to 30 or less to dodge the higher health insurance costs to be paid by businesses with more than 50 workers.

Schnatter, whom Schultz described as "a big-time Romney reporter and fund-raiser," estimated that the change will cost Papa John's $5 million to $8 million annually,  or from as much as 14 cents per pizza to as low as 4 cents a pie.

And while the businessman "says he's impartial to ObamaCare," the host stated, "his actions, they suggest otherwise."

"Health care is not going to break the bank for Papa John's," Schultz said, noting that the addition of pennies per pizza, if the product is good enough, "that doesn't sound too bad, does it?"

On top of all that, Papa John's made $44 million during the first nine months of 2012. There's no doubt Papa John's has the money to provide their workers with the health insurance, but he [Schnatter] just doesn't like the plan.

"Papa John's is doing pretty good under the Obama economy," the host added, pointing to commercials that advertise the distribution of two million free pizzas as a publicity event.

The company can give away all those pizzas, "but they can't afford to give workers health care?" he asked.

Schultz then turned his attention to the company owner's wealth:

Schnatter lives in a 40,000-square-foot mansion with a 22-car garage, and this guy doesn't want to give pizza delivery workers health insurance?

The guest for that segment was Sam Stein, a political reporter for the liberal Huffington Post website, who stated that the cost of up to $8 million per year "for a company that has operating expenses of about $1.13 billion a year" was "miniscule."

Referring to Schnatter, Stein stated that "what he's trying to do is make a political point."

Tommy Christopher, a liberal reporter for the Mediaite.com website, used that segment as a springboard to add his views regarding Schnatter.

The writer called the business owner's wealth "ostentatious" in the face of the "cheaptitude" of "begrudging his employees a dime's worth of health insurance" while he lives in a "ridiculous estate" with a turntable for all his limousines.

For those of us who supported health care reform, and those of us who will pay for it, Schnatter's real crime is not thanking us for the millions of dollars we're saving him.

"Schnatter has tried to play the concerned pragmatist on ObamaCare, but make no mistake about it, this is a purely partisan PR offensive, and I do mean offensive," Christopher continued. "Meanwhile, shares in Papa John's International have been tumbling since Thursday, falling from $51.70 at market  close on Wednesday to $49.22 on Monday, a 4.2 percent drop."

"The problem with boycotting Papa John's (aside from the fact that it's hard to refuse to buy pizza from a chain you already don't buy pizza from) is that it actually hurts the employees on whose behalf we're all outraged," he stated.

This whole flap really underscores the entire point of health care reform, which is that even if Papa John's doesn't have its employee's backs, President Obama does, and so do the rest of us. No one should have to die for 14 cents' worth of pizza. Not in America.

As NewsBusters previously reported, remarks by Schnatter in August were met with bitter criticism from CNN, where reporters had no data to justify their claims that the businessman's figures were "false."

It's very obvious that none of the liberals criticizing Schnatter, who founded and oversees the third-largest take-out and delivery pizza restaurant chain in the United States (behind Pizza Hut and Domino's Pizza), have anything anywhere near comparable business experience.

The sad part of all this is that while businesses will struggle to stay afloat in the face of higher taxes and health care insurance, the din of liberals' shouts criticizing them for that will get louder as we continue to sink to the bottom of the Obama economy.

Randy Hall
Randy Hall