Height of insensitivity! US commerce secy advises unpaid federal workers to take loans to cover cost
Washington, Jan 25: The days of the monarchs are over but those of the billionaires. Even as eight lakh federal employees in the US struggle to make their daily ends meet, thanks to a government shutdown for over a month now, the country's commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross on Thursday, January 24, said he had little understanding as to why the furloughed workers were visiting food banks and advised them to take low-interest loans from banks and credit unions to make up for their lost wages.
The 81-year-old billionaire who is a longtime friend of US President Donald Trump said this in an interview to CNBC.
"I know they are, and I don't really quite understand why," Ross said on CNBC when asked about the federal workers going to food banks to get food for their family.
Ross's remark drew immediate criticism, including White House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who recently took over. "Is this the 'let them eat cake' kind of attitude?" she asked. "Or call your father for money?"
Ross said by taking a loan, the furloughed workers would be able to cover their expenses while the shutdown is still on. He acknowledged that they would have to shell out interest but it should help them cover their costs.
"The idea that it's paycheck or zero is not a really valid idea. There's no reason why some institution wouldn't be willing to lend," Ross said.
The shutdown, which started on December 22 and is the longest in the US history, saw the federal workers losing one month's pay and they are close to losing another month's as well. Ross's own agencies have also been hit while the Trump Administration has tried to manage the situation by requiring several unpaid workers to continue doing their work, The Washington Post reported.
The furloughed workers have already started showing signs of dissent with many saying they are either sick or couldn't afford gasoline to attend work.