McCain Leaves The National Restaurant Association Hanging

We just read through John McCain’s speech to the National Restaurant Association to see what he had to say that’s pertinent to the restaurant industry.

As you can imagine, most of the speech is about…nothing in particular — lower taxes, more trade, and so forth. We were instead looking for substantial pronouncements about food prices and labor availability, and got met halfway.

McCain opposes the Farm Bill in its current form, much like President Bush; all those nasty agribusiness subsidies and protectionist tariffs raising food prices and eviscerating the global poor, or so goes the argument. The theory is, a McCain-authorized farm bill would lower costs for restaurants, although he doesn’t go so far as to say it.

The elephant in the room for restaurants, as far as we’re concerned, is workers. Specifically, finding them, paying them and keeping them in an environment where much of the traditional labor pool is not authorized to work in the United States. Remember when illegal immigration was a big deal? Wait a minute, it still is!

Last year, the NRA was up in arms about the immigration bill that McCain co-sponsored, worrying that their industry would fall apart without cheap, unchecked illegal immigrant labor; they were hoping for some kind of comprehensive guest worker program instead. America went the third way — doing nothing.

Since that time, McCain has reversed his position on the subject, leaving us with very little to go on aside from a nostrum on border security. What will we do about the 13 million people living here without papers, then? Anybody’s guess!

So, how will restaurant kitchens function under a McCain presidency? We don’t know, and the NRA certainly didn’t find out from this speech.

McCain’s Remarks to the National Restaurant Association [Real Clear Politics]
Sen. John McCain to Address NRA Show [NRA]
McCain: I would honor NAFTA; veto farm bill [USAToday]
Bush signs one-week extension of federal farm bill [Reuters]
Issue Du Jour: Immigration And The Restaurant Industry [MP:Chicago]
Industry leaders express concerns about new immigration proposal [NRN]
CNN’s Bash noted McCain said he’d oppose his own immigration bill – but not his remark days earlier that as president, he’d sign it into law [Media Matters]
Border Security & Immigration Reform [McCain Official Site]

[Photo: McCain in a NH restaurant by Jim Cole, via Daylife]


McCain Leaves The National Restaurant Association Hanging