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Trump eyes the 'worst-case scenario' for the Labor Department

Demonstrators prepare signs supporting the raising of the federal minimum wage during May Day demonstrations in New York, N.Y., on May 1, 2014. (Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
Demonstrators prepare signs supporting the raising of the federal minimum wage during May Day demonstrations in New York, N.Y., on May 1, 2014.
Last week, The American Prospect had a report on the "Fight for 15" campaign, committed to raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and the challenges facing the national initiative. Looking ahead to Donald Trump's Labor Secretary nominee, the article added, "Perhaps the worst-case scenario for low-wage workers would be Andy Puzder."Take a wild guess who's apparently getting the gig.

President-elect Donald J. Trump is expected to name Andrew F. Puzder, chief executive of the company that operates the fast food outlets Hardee's and Carl's Jr. and an outspoken critic of the worker protections enacted by the Obama administration, to be secretary of labor, people close to the transition said on Thursday.Mr. Puzder has spent his career in the private sector and has opposed efforts to expand eligibility for overtime pay, while arguing that large minimum wage increases hurt small businesses and lead to job loss among low-skilled workers.

Note, while several news organizations have said Puzder is Trump's choice for the Labor Department, this has not yet been confirmed by NBC News. [Update: It's now official; Puzder will be nominated.]That said, if the reports are accurate, and Senate Republicans confirm the selection, Puzder would join a long and growing list of Trump's team members who have no background in elected office and no governing experience whatsoever. The list already included Steven Mnuchin (Treasury), Ben Carson (HUD), Betsy DeVos (Education), Wilbur Ross (Commerce), and Stephen Bannon (White House strategist).As it turns out, Puzder is also the latest in a series of multimillionaires and Republican donors to receive a cabinet slot from Trump.But the most glaring problem with this selection is that Trump's preferred Labor Secretary is deeply hostile towards practically every proposal that would benefit working people. From the aforementioned American Prospect piece:

In his frequent op-ed and cable news commentaries, Puzder has championed every aspect of right-wing trickle-down economics. Rolling back taxation and regulation for the rich and corporations will lift the economy, he's argued, as will getting rid of all those minimum-wage hikes.Last year, the fast-food CEO made more in one day ($17,192) than one of his full-time minimum wage workers would make in a year ($15,130), according to TalkPoverty. Yet Puzder opposes any increase to the minimum wage, believes that workers are kept in poverty because of government assistance programs, and thinks expanding access to overtime pay would diminish the prestige of entry-level management jobs.

For a Labor Secretary, Puzder also seems unusually hostile towards those who provide labor. In a March 2016 interview, for example, he boasted about his investments in machines over people: "They're always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there's never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case."If you're one of those voters who supported Donald Trump because you expected him to be a champion of working families, too often overlooked by wealthy and powerful interests, the Puzder nomination is the latest evidence that Trump has unique definitions of "elitism" and "populism" that bear no resemblance to sensible policymaking.Postscript: It doesn't help matters that Puzder is responsible for a series of misogynistic TV ads for his burger chain.