Despite his predilections for KFC or taco bowls, or his appearances in ads for Pizza Hut and McDonald’s, the president-elect is really a Carl’s Jr. kind of guy. The California-based chain is best known for its oversized burgers, hypersexualized ads, and confusing affiliation with Hardee’s—the fast-food chain it acquired back in 1997. Like Trump, Carl’s Jr. aspires to flashiness and brashly appeals to men. It’s slogan? Eat Like You Mean It. Trump made this unspoken kinship official on Thursday, when he announced Andy Puzder, the longtime CEO of Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s, as his choice for labor secretary.
For years, it seemed that the Republican Party’s kindred spirit in the fast-food world has been Chick-fil-A. As The Hill noted back in October, House Republicans spent over $30,000 on Chick-fil-A during the most recent term with the office of House Speaker Paul Ryan dropping $2,500 alone in two months this year. The Atlanta-based chain—despite some recent changes in philosophy—has reflected traditional GOP values, and remains popular particularly among conservative diners. Then came Donald Trump.
As my colleague Alexia Fernández Campbell noted, Puzder “has been a vocal defender of Trump’s economic policies, including lowering the corporate-tax rate, and has opposed Obamacare and certain business regulations, such as a higher minimum wage.” Even before Puzder was formally nominated, Democrats of all stripes and representatives from various labor unions spoke out against him. “Andy will fight to make American workers safer and more prosperous by enforcing fair occupational safety standards and ensuring workers receive the benefits they deserve,” Trump said on Thursday in Iowa. “He will save small businesses from the crushing burdens of unnecessary regulations that are stunting job growth and suppressing wages." For now, it’s Puzder’s views on wages that seem to be attracting the most focus in the wake of his nomination.