McDonalds puts a smile on with Gibbs, whatever he may have said at White House podium

June 12, 2015 in News by RBN Staff

“When Gibbs was President Barack Obama’s press point man from 2009-2011, he defended the health care overhaul day after day as the controversial legislation made its way through Congress.”


And, YOU get a burger. … Next!


Source: Center for Responsive Politics

by on

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

In his new role as McDonald’s global chief communications officer, former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs will “lead McDonald’s in communicating clear, coordinated messages to internal and external constituencies, enhancing the brand and supporting corporate strategies,” according to an announcement Tuesday by the fast food giant.

That’ll put Gibbs front-and-center conveying the company’s perspective on a number of issues that are familiar to him, not the least of which is the Affordable Care Act. And the McDonald’s point of view is not one that’s always in sync with the White House policies he once defended.

When Gibbs was President Barack Obama’s press point man from 2009-2011, he defended the health care overhaul day after day as the controversial legislation made its way through Congress. McDonald’s, with its over 3,000 small franchisees, has had issues with some of the law’s requirements. Health care has been prominently featured on the company’s lobbying reports, and its spending has soared: In 2009, McDonald’s laid out $480,000 for federal lobbying; that spiked to $2.27 million by 2013 before dipping slightly to $2.1 million last year.

The company’s position is bolstered by the excellent relationships it has built in Congress by giving generously — nearly $900,000 to congressional candidates in the 2014 cycle, plus generous gifts to the Democratic and Republican party committees. The company’s PAC delivered slightly more to Republicans than Democrats.

McDonald’s, along with numerous other companies, received waivers from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in 2010 allowing it to keep minimum annual benefit amounts in their less expensive health care plans unchanged until 2014, when most of the ACA went into effect. The company had informed HHS that with higher required benefit amounts, “it would be economically prohibitive for our carrier to continue offering” those lower cost plans, known as “mini-med” plans. Shortly after receiving the waiver, Rich Floersch, the company’s chief human resources officer, said in testimony before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, that not having the mini-med plans “would have been highly disruptive to the company and our employees.”

Various franchise restaurant owners under the umbrella of the International Franchise Association (IFA), including from McDonald’s, have also sought to change a provision in the law that would impose penalties on employers with over 50 workers if insurance coverage isn’t offered to those who work a minimum of 30 hours per week. In a 2013 survey of 25 McDonald’s franchisees obtained by The Huffington Post, one such franchisee claimed that “Obamacare will negatively hit us like nothing else.”

Actually, that position may not be such a problem for Gibbs, who said in a 2014 speech that he thought the law’s employer mandate was “a small part of the law” and “will be one of the first things to go.” Gibbs became an NBC News and MSNBC contributor after leaving the White House and co-founded a public relations firm, The Incite Agency.

Other points of friction with his former employer will bubble up, of course. In December, the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) general counsel cited the company and some of its franchisees jointly in formal complaints over claims that employers were mistreated for taking part in union organizing and calling for wage increases — effectively claiming, in this case, that the actions of the franchisees were not independent of the corporation.

In April, McDonald’s announced that it would raise the minimum hourly wage for workers at its corporate-owned locations (about 10 percent worldwide) by about $1, starting in July. The wage increases would not apply to McDonald’s franchisees, though, and — averaging out at about $9.90 per hour after the increase — still doesn’t quite meet the $10.10 hourly minimum that President Obama has called for in his last two State of the Union addresses.

Many fast-food workers, including from McDonald’s, rallied in September as well as after the company’s announcement in favor of a $15 an hour minimum wage.

Still, the company did win Michelle Obama’s approval for putting more fruit and fewer fries in its Happy Meals a few years ago. And given Gibbs’ communications chops and depth on the issues, executives at the corporate home of Ronald McDonald must be pleased with their latest hire — in fact, they’re probably lovin’ it!