Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Doesn’t Understand Why Unpaid Federal Workers Need Food Banks

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Doesn’t Understand Why Unpaid Federal Workers Need Food Banks

There is out of touch, and then there’s what Wilbur Ross displayed on CNBC this morning.

As the government shutdown is now in its second month with no end in sight, the commerce secretary said he didn’t understand why hundreds of thousands of federal workers who have been furloughed or are working without pay are going to food banks to get assistance.

“I know they are, and I don’t really quite understand why,” Ross replied when asked by CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin about workers going to homeless shelters to get food. “Because, as I mentioned before, the obligations that they would undertake, say borrowing from a bank or a credit union are in effect federally guaranteed.”

Currently, around 800,000 federal workers are about to miss their second straight paycheck. While those workers should receive their back pay when the government re-opens, an estimated 1.2 million government contractors are not getting paid and will most likely not receive any compensation for the missed time.

Besides wondering aloud why workers don’t just go to the bank and get a few bucks so they don’t starve, Ross also brushed off the impact these workers going unpaid has on the economy as a whole.

“Put it in perspective, you’re talking about 800,000 workers,” he said. “And while I feel sorry for the individuals that have hardship cases, 800,000 workers if they never got their pay, which is not the case they will eventually get it, but if they never got it, you’re talking about a third of a percent on our GDP. So, it’s not like it’s a gigantic number overall.”

Ross, who is worth an estimated $3 billion, isn’t the only Trump figure to completely swing and whiff when it comes to the administration’s messaging on the shutdown and its impact on federal workers. Trump campaign adviser and presidential daughter-in-law Lara Trump said it was a “little bit of a pain” for workers to go unpaid but they should understand they are sacrificing “for the future of the country.” White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett, meanwhile, compared the shutdown to a vacation, saying workers were “better off” being furloughed because they weren’t using vacation days.

Justin Baragona

Justin Baragona is the founder/publisher of Contemptor and a contributor to The Daily Beast. He was previously the Cable News Correspondent for Mediaite and prior to starting Contemptor, he worked on the editorial staff of PoliticusUSA. During that time, he had his work quoted by USA Today and BBC News, among others. Justin began his published career as a political writer for 411Mania. He resides in St. Louis, MO with his wife and pets.