Congressman Robert Aderholt: Ending the war on restaurants
In President Biden’s first address to Congress Wednesday night, he talked about showing that American government can work. He believes that only government can lead the way and only government can solve our big problems. (A far cry from when President Reagan told us the truth, that government isn’t the answer to our problems, it is the problem.) Let me talk about one particular situation where the government is causing great harm right now: the restaurant business.
After a year when the restaurant industry has been hit the hardest, government is doing everything It can to keep those businesses from bouncing back. Just when Americans want to get out and go eat, the government has created programs that pay people to stay at home, rather than take the jobs that are necessary to allow people to get out and enjoy their new freedoms.
Restaurants are having to operate drive-thrus only, reduce open hours or even close on some days. Why? They can’t find people who want to work. They had rather draw unemployment, set their own schedule with the same amount of pay, and honestly, who can blame them?
The Dairy Queen in Hanceville recently posted the sign above. And you’ve probably experienced the same situation where you live as well. The Cardinal Drive-in in Red Bay can’t even open for lunch now, only dinner, because they can’t find enough workers. Even bigger chains like Cracker Barrell are feeling this pinch. The location in Guntersville has at times only had enough staff to open for breakfast and lunch, and close for dinner.
With the pandemic coming to an end and with vaccinations available to everyone, there is no excuse to continue pay people to not work. There is no logic behind this approach.
If you get the state unemployment maximum, which is $275 per week, plus the federal $300 per week, that works out to more than $14.00 per hour, tax free. Then you can add the stimulus payments and dependent payments on top of this.
Some might say, “well if we just increased the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour, this would solve the problem.” Many restaurants in Alabama are already paying close to this in wages, and now, are offering signing bonuses. But many small, locally owned restaurants in rural areas simply can’t afford to pay $15.00 per hour. They would go out of business and just close entirely.
The left talks about increasing the minimum wage as if the money to pay these wages will just appear in the small business owner’s pocket. And while you might not think of restaurants like McDonald’s or Dairy Queen as being small businesses, keep in mind that most of those restaurants are actually operated by independent franchisees, a.k.a. small business owners.
When COVID first hit, and we didn’t know exactly what we were facing and how to safely work, stimulus for the economy made sense. It kept our economy afloat. But now that the pandemic is coming to an end, more government spending, more expanded unemployment insurance and a higher minimum wage is like continuing to give the patient more medicine when they are healed. It will only make them sick again.
Small businesses like restaurants have been through enough in the past year. Many did not make it and will never reopen. Why are we now, with the pandemic quickly ending, taking aim at them again by making it more lucrative for their workforce to stay home than come earn a paycheck?
America has always been based on our freedom, liberty, an entrepreneurial spirit and ultimately our faith in God. This is the fundamental strength of America that sets us apart in the word. Unfortunately, President Biden and the left are trying to govern in such a way that makes one think our strength comes from an overreaching and intrusive federal government. Government, if used in the right way, the way the Founders intended, can be helpful, but it is never the ultimate answer to our problems.
U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (AL-04) is a Republican from Haleyville.