Wealthy Trump administration officials and others on the right harboring serious cash have been less than empathetic toward federal workers adversely affected by the government shutdown.
The Guardian offered a roundup of comments made by various individuals that are tone deaf, to put it mildly.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose net worth has been estimated as at least $700 million, told CNBC on Thursday that he doesn’t quite understand why federal employees going without pay would need to use food banks
“The 30 days of pay that some people will be out, there’s no real reason why they shouldn’t be able to get a loan against it,” he said, seemingly encouraging government workers to apply for predatory payday-style loans, uncertain when they might be able to pay them back.
Some of those workers, who are set for a second missed paycheck on Friday, have taken to drastic measures to stay afloat. In Chicago, Transportation Security Administration workers have been stopping at area food pantries in uniform on their way to unpaid work, while in north Texas food pantries have said their resources have been pushed to near the breaking point. Over the weekend food banks in the Washington DC area reported being deluged.
But Ross is not along: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said previously that workers furloughed over the Christmas holiday were “better off” for not having to use vacation days.
“And then they come back and then they get their back pay, then they’re, in some sense, they’re better off,” Hassett said.
National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow has compared unpaid workers to patriotic volunteers:
When asked how coming to work without pay for fear of being fired counted as volunteering, Kudlow, a millionaire, bristled at the question. “They do it because of their love for the country and the office of the presidency and presumably because their allegiance to President Trump …”
And Lara Trump, wife of presidential son Eric Trump, wrote off federal workers’ financial struggles as “a little bit of pain” during an interview this week:
“Listen, it’s not fair to you and we all get that,” she said on the digital news network Bold TV. “But this is so much bigger than any one person. It is a little bit of pain but it’s going to be for the future of our country. And their children and their grandchildren and generations after them will thank them for their sacrifice right now.”
These comments and more have led to numerous accusations of those on the wealthy right having their “Let them eat cake” moment, as they show contempt for those experiencing hardship due to President Trump’s demands for a border wall.