GOP Lawmaker Faces Scrutiny for Viral Tweet About Hardee's Drive-Thru

A Republican congressperson is facing backlash after posting a tweet that many felt oversimplified the plight of America's minimum-wage workers.

Rep. David Rouzer (R-N.C.) shared the now-viral image of a Hardee's drive-thru late last week. In the photo, a piece of printer paper is seen taped over part of the menu. "Due to NO STAFF," reads the sign, "WE ARE CLOSED." It adds that the store is hiring and includes a phone number for interested applicants.

Rouzer claimed that the restaurant's lack of workers could be blamed on aid provided by the federal government amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, rather than issues others have pointed out, like poor working conditions and low pay. Along with the image, Rouzer wrote, "This is what happens when you extend unemployment benefits for too long and add a $1400 stimulus payment to it."

"Right when employers need workers to fully open back up, few can be found," he added.

This is what happens when you extend unemployment benefits for too long and add a $1400 stimulus payment to it.  Right when employers need workers to fully open back up, few can be found.

— David Rouzer (@RepDavidRouzer) April 30, 2021

Twitter users were quick to criticize Rouzer's post, which has since garnered thousands of reactions and comments. Many pointed out that the issue was more likely a result of workers not being paid enough, as the federal minimum wage is still a mere $7.25 per hour, and several noted that a simple solution would be to increase wages.

"Nah bud," wrote one Twitter user, "it's what happens when companies don't pay enough for what the job requires."

A former employee echoed that point, adding, "My starting rate at Hardee's was $7.50/hr. It got bumped up 25¢ every 3 months, but that stopped after a year. When I left I was only making $8.25/hr and I wouldn't get another raise until my yearly review. I left in August of 2020. I'm not surprised Hardee's can't find workers."

Others pointed out that a one-time stimulus payment of $1400 wouldn't cover more than a month's worth of expenses for many Americans, let alone provide enough for them to abandon their jobs.

One commenter wrote that "if $1,400 in the bank makes you think someone's taking an extended vacay, you have lost all concept of the reality of economics."

"If you're delusional enough to believe that people can live off unemployment benefits and a $1400 check, it's no wonder you also believe people can live on $7.50 an hour," added another.

Meanwhile, some used the concept of championing the free market, something Rouzer's political party largely supports, to flip the narrative of the tweet.

"The free market is telling them they need to raise their wages," wrote one Twitter user.

"Looks like a market adjustment to me. Just gonna have to pay people more," voiced another.

While few and far between, there are commenters who agree with Rouzer's point. One user claimed that Rouzer was "right" and that people are "abusing" benefits associated with COVID-19 relief.

"Where does this money come from?" asked another, referring to the call for increased wages. "What do you cut out of the budget to pay more?"

The restaurant industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, and it appears that fast-food chains across the country are struggling to find employees. Last month, it was reported that a Florida McDonald's was paying a $50 incentive to job applicants who turned up for an interview. They were also reportedly considering raising their wages from $12 to $13 per hour.

David Rouzer at 2012 RNC
Rep. David Rouzer at the 2012 Republican National Convention. Mark Wilson/Getty Images