(DALLAS, TX) – The CEO leaders of Job Creators Alliance today announced their strong support of a restaurant franchisee whose health care comments landed him in the national spotlight. The small business group also identified a troubling pattern of orchestrated campaigns to silence small business complaints about Obamacare.
“Mike Ruffner is in the same tough spot most job creators are in today: stuck between uncertainty and Obamacare,” said Bernie Marcus, co-founder and former CEO of Home Depot. “He has every right to speak his mind, but today he’s being punished for it. In fact, he’s just the latest – we’re seeing a pattern of intimidation against small business leaders who speak up about the failures of Obamacare.”
Mr. Ruffer, owner of eight Five Guys Burgers and Fries franchises in North Carolina, joined a Monday Heritage Foundation panel discussion on Obamacare and small business. Ruffer said health care reform was hurting his business and forcing him to cancel expansion plans and raise burger prices. When his comments hit the Internet, calls from Obamacare supporters rained into executives at Five Guys headquarters. Within hours, corporate was distancing themselves from the beleaguered small businessman.
“What is most disturbing is that many business leaders like Mr. Ruffer are being singled out for a public thrashing for simply explaining the realities of the Affordable Care Act,” said Marcus, who is also co-founder of Job Creators Alliance (JCA).
Darden Restaurants – owner of Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and Red Lobster restaurants – spoke out in late 2012 and was rapidly rebuked via telephone, email and social media. At the same time, RREMC Restaurants, which owns more than 30 Denny’s locations, announced plans to pass the cost on to consumers. Within a day, Denny’s corporate offices had the CEO apologizing. Last month, Universal Orlando Resort announced cancellation of a health care program for their part time employees and the Internet exploded in derision.
“The list goes on and on: Applebees, Papa John’s, even golfer Phil Mickelson – when a business owner speaks up about job killing policies, they are quickly bullied into apologizing,” said JCA member Mike Leven, president and CEO of Las Vegas Sands. “Who is orchestrating the telephone banks and email campaigns which erupt moments after a business leader speaks against Obamacare? For the first time in my long career, I feel like a target. We all do.”
“Job creators across the country are staring into the depths of Obamacare uncertainty today, facing the same decisions as Mr. Ruffer,” Marcus said. “That’s bad enough. But when campaign forces attack small business leaders like him, disrupting commerce and risking jobs just to make a political point, job creators are no longer just uncertain. They’re afraid.”
Job Creators Alliance is the voice of real job creators that has been missing from the American debate on jobs and our economic crisis. JCA members talk about paychecks, not politics, helping the public and policymakers understand how to create jobs. Please visit www.JobCreatorsAlliance.org for more information.