Restaurant owner says Biden ducked his question about hiring workers

A Cincinnati-area restaurant owner who asked President Biden about his struggles to hire workers because he’s competing with expanded federal unemployment benefits said Thursday that the president didn’t answer his question.

John Lanni asked Mr. Biden during a CNN event how his administration plans to incentivize those who haven’t returned to work, choosing instead lucrative federal benefits.

In response, Mr. Biden said he needed to pay his employees higher wages or risk losing them to higher-paying industries.

Mr. Lanni told the Cincinnati Enquirer that Mr. Biden‘s answer wasn’t sufficient. He added that 80% to 90% of his company’s workers make a livable wage — $15 an hour.

“I feel like he didn’t really answer the question,” Mr. Lanni told the paper.

“I was hoping he would recognize it is every industry’s dilemma,” he continued.

“We are in a labor crisis, and we need to find a way to incentivize people to get back to work. I just heard restaurants are going to have a hard road going forward, and that we need to pay our workers more,” he said. “That’s happening, and it’s still not enough.”

Mr. Lanni did not respond to requests for comment from The Washington Times.

In response to Mr. Lanni’s question, the president said the restaurant owner would continue to be in a “bind” until he starts paying his workers more.

“It really is a matter of people deciding now that they have opportunities to do other things,” Mr. Biden responded. “People are looking to make more money and to bargain.”

“My guess is that people making $7, $8 an hour plus tips, that’s — I think, John — you are going to be finding $15 an hour now. You may pay that already,” the president continued.

Some on social media blasted the president’s response.

“Watch: Joe Biden scolds a struggling small business owner to pay more to find workers,” RNC Research tweeted.

Ohio Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance chimed in, saying Mr. Lanni has done a lot of good in Cincinnati.

“This response is a joke,” Mr. Vance tweeted.

The president also pointed out that his administration worked to keep restaurants in business amid the pandemic. He told Mr. Lanni, “We kept you open. We spent billions of dollars to make sure restaurants could stay open.”

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