On Friday, hundreds of thousands of federal workers impacted by the longest government shutdown in U.S. history will miss their paychecks for a second time.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who has an estimated worth of around $700 million, doesn’t understand how going a month without pay is such a burden for these furloughed federal employees.
During a Thursday appearance on CNBC, Ross attempted to downplay the ongoing government shutdown that President Donald Trump pushed for last month, and shrugged off the hundreds of thousands of furloughed employees as insignificant.
“Put it in perspective, you’re talking about 800,000 workers, and while I feel sorry for the individuals that have hardship cases…you’re talking about a third of a percent on our GDP,” said Ross. “So it’s not like it’s a gigantic number overall.”
When CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin followed up by asking about “federal workers who are going to homeless shelters to get food,” Trump’s Commerce Secretary offered an even more tone-deaf response: “Well I know they are, and I don’t really quite understand why.”
. @CommerceGov Secretary Wilbur Ross on federal workers going to homeless shelters for food during #shutdown: “Well I know they are and I don't really quite understand why” suggesting gov't employees take out loans through banks or credit unions pic.twitter.com/QFs4UySNcH
— Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC) January 24, 2019
Ross, one of the only remaining original members of Trump’s cabinet, has a history of cringeworthy television appearances.
The 81-year-old has used a can of soup to defend Trump’s tariffs, confused CNBC hosts by claiming Americans won’t care about rising costs from the president’s trade wars, defended Trump’s tariffs by saying a $50 billion loss is no big deal, and bragged about the lack of protests against the president in a country that outlaws protests.
Ross has also faced scrutiny for his role in attempting to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, a change that specifically targets undocumented immigrants. A federal district court recently ruled that the question must be removed from the Census.
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