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A new post by Allison Padgett, Contributor, Blog of The Century.
If I had a dollar for every time a millionaire CEO bemoaned the cost of Obamacare, I just might end up rich myself.

Recently, the Orlando Sentinel reported that Darden Inc., parent company of chain restaurants such as Olive Garden and Red Lobster, plans to keep more employees as part-timers in order to avoid new provisions of the health care reform law.

Darden has thousands of restaurants across the country and over 150,000 employees, 75 percent of which are already part-time.  The new system means limiting more workers to 28 hours per week, including mostly people who would work full-time if they had the chance.

Darden is certainly not the only company looking to “cut labor costs” or scheming to pass along the costs of health care to someone else.  Papa John’s founder, John Schattner, who has hundreds of millions of dollars and hosts fundraisers for Republicans, has famously said his customers will pay 14 cents more per pizza thanks to Obamacare.

And then there’s billionaire David Siegel, founder and CEO of Westgate Resorts.  Siegel recently sent a chain e-mail to thousands of his employees warning them about layoffs if President Obama is re-elected (although he appears to be obsessed with taxes more than health care reform).

You may have heard of Siegel before.  He and his wife are the stars of the documentary The Queen of Versailles, a story about their journey to build the largest house in America—a 90,000 square foot mansion with thirty bathrooms.  Siegel has the gall to complain in the aforementioned e-mail that plans for this “dream house” were almost derailed by the economic downturn.  I wonder if he found sympathy from any of his employees who lost their homes due to foreclosure.

This is very bizarre, indeed.  How can someone with hundreds of millions of dollars say with a straight face that he can’t afford to pay or provide health care to his employees? It doesn’t make sense because it’s not true.

In the case of Darden restaurants, we should all be worried that thousands more Americans will be held back from full-time employment. Your next server at Olive Garden will likely not only be uninsured, but will also not be making enough money to take care of his or her family. Who picks up the tab for that?

On a side note, one of my many jobs in college was at a corporate chain peddling fruity lotions and candles. This corporation would limit our shifts to less than four hours so they didn’t have to give anyone a ten-minute break.  They even forced employees to return to the store later in the day for another couple hour shift—all to avoid a ten-minute break.

Hardworking Americans deserve better. And as long as a company has hundreds of millions of dollars to pay one executive, I’m not buying the Obamacare blame game or any other excuse that tries to mask the corporate greed that is hurting all of us.

As a Communications Specialist for AFSCME, Allison Padgett amplifies the voices of the librarians, trash collectors and other public service workers who make our communities happen.  She graduated from University of California, Davis and lives in Las Vegas.

The Century Foundation is a progressive think tank, founded in 1919, with office in NYC and DC. For more information, visit

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