U.S. needs another Covid stimulus package

McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski told CNBC he hopes President-elect Joe Biden will tackle some of the country’s biggest problems, including the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

“We need a stimulus measure, I think that is very clear,” he told CNBC’s Carl Quintanilla in an interviewed that aired Tuesday on “Squawk on the Street.”

Democrats and Republicans have failed to reach another stimulus package, leaving millions of unemployed workers and struggling businesses in the lurch. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he wants a deal passed tis year, but his proposal is much lower than what Democrats are seeking, and it’s not clear if an agreement will actually happen.

The $1,200 stimulus checks sent out to Americans in April helped lift sales for struggling restaurants and retailers, and the Paycheck Protection Program sent funding to nearly 700,000 businesses, including McDonald’s franchisees.

Kempczinski also said he hopes that the next administration will look for solutions to some long-term issues, like climate change and making sure jobs and education provide opportunity for everyone.

McDonald’s is open to discussing the minimum wage, he said. The national minimum wage has held steady at $7.25 per hour for more than a decade. The Fight for $15 and a Union, which is made up of fast-food workers, has been pushing for a $15 minimum wage for years, with scattered success.

Most recently, Florida voted to increase its wage floor over the next six years until it reaches $15 an hour. It is the eighth state to approve a $15-an-hour minimum wage and the second-most populous state to do so.

Kempczinski also acknowledged that some of the Trump administration’s proposals helped McDonald’s and aligned with its beliefs. For example, the company benefited from its corporate tax cuts.

But Kempczinski is not expecting the Biden administration to change everything. He’s predicting that the joint employer rule will remain unchanged. Under the rule, someone who works for one company can also be considered employed by another company. But the National Labor Review Board said last year that the rule does not apply to McDonald’s for its franchised restaurant workers. The decision was a big win for McDonald’s, which has argued that it should not be held responsible for any labor violations of its franchisees.

Shares of McDonald’s were down slightly Tuesday. The stock, which has a market value of about $165 billion, has climbed 8% this year.

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