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Uncertainty Rules as Restaurant Industry Assesses Trump Admin.


The NRA Show wraps up today at McCormick Place in Chicago.

When it comes to how the Trump administration’s policies and legislative plans will impact the restaurant industry, the questions are many and—at least for now—the answers are few.

“We’re only, in my opinion, at the beginning of it, so buckle up,” said Cicely Simpson, executive vice president of policy and government affairs for the National Restaurant Association. Speaking today during the session, “The First 100 Days of Trump: What it Means for You,” Simpson noted a high level of uncertainty remains as Congress continues its focus on the repeal and replacement of Obamacare while “all of those other promises from the campaign, they have not been touched.”

“If you’re wondering why that matters,” said Simpson, “it matters where you start. Now, there’s so much ill will about starting with healthcare in Congress. …The Democrats are already pissed off because (the GOP) started with repeal and replacement of Obamacare.”

The NRA’s discussions with government officials are ongoing in a number of areas, said Simpson, including on the border adjustment tax, the federal overtime rule and immigration.

The border adjustment tax, proposed as part of Republicans’ tax overhaul plan, would effectively create a new levy on imports. “If you’re importing food, importing any part of your supply chain, there’s a big debate in Congress right now about whether to tax that,” said Simpson, and the NRA is exploring options for a food and beverage exemption.

The Department of Labor’s overtime rule, increasing the salary threshold for overtime exemptions, remains in limbo. “It’s actually stuck in the courts and the new administration hasn’t done anything about it,” said Simpson. Conversations continue between the NRA and new Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta on whether it gets dropped completely, “or are you going to adjust and modify it and still implement it in some form.”

On immigration, Simpson said the NRA is hearing from restaurants around the country about owners and employees being deported, “or their employees being stopped on their way to work.”

“Let us know if you’re hearing about that, if you’re experiencing it,” said Simpson. “... This is really serious when it comes to the restaurant industry; we’re an industry of diversity and we pride ourselves on that … if it looks like our employees are being targeted, we need to be able to take action.

“Immigration, if it turns out to be a 2018 election issue, Republicans will lose, that’s my prediction.”

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The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Tom KaiserTom Kaiser is senior editor of Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3209, or send story ideas to tkaiser@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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