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Commerce Secretary doesn't 'understand' why furloughed workers are using food banks

Jaimie-lee Prince
Jan 25, 2019
05:06 P.M.
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Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross received backlash for suggesting that federal workers take loans with "a little bit of interest" amid the shutdown. 

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On Thursday, the government shutdown entered day 34. By Friday, 800,000 federal employees were expected to miss a second paycheck. Some of them have had to go to food banks to survive. 

As these people struggle, the commerce secretary is wondering why they aren't just taking a loan. In a CNBC interview, Ross expressed confusion. Online, people expressed their shock at his confusion.

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He said: 

“Banks and credit unions should be making credit available to them. Now true, the people might have to pay a little bit of interest, but the idea that it's paycheck or zero is not a really valid idea.”

Ross is reportedly worth around $860 million himself. Online, people deemed his comments highly out of touch. The idea that furloughed workers should inconvenience themselves was abhorred.

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Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi commented about the matter by asking if this is "the 'let them eat cake' attitude or 'call your father for money?' "

Senator Joe Manchin for West Virginia also spoke bluntly on the matter at the Capital:

"I guess anybody at the top of the food chain is totally tone deaf." 

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In a dramatic twist of events, President Trump reopened the government earlier today. However, it is unclear as to the details of federal employees' paychecks. The agreement to reopen will last for three weeks only.

Ross, 81, might not have thought twice of his suggestion to families dealing with the shutdown. According to the LA Times, taking loans amid financial hardship is one of the last things a person should do. 

The US and its citizens are already plagued by debt. Such practices could just lead to federal workers' "financial catastrophe." 

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Ross also addressed the opinion that the shutdown was giving the US a poor reputation. He used a relatively inconsiderate comparison to explain why that wasn't the case. 

He said: 

"Put it in perspective: you're talking about 800,000 workers, and while I feel sorry for individuals who have hardship cases, 800,000 workers if they never got their pay... you're talking about a third of a percent on our GDP." 

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Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, described Ross' words as "appalling. Pretty soon after Ross made them, they were retracted in a second interview.

Ross said in an apparent excuse: 

"We're aware, painfully aware, that there are hardships inflicted on the individual workers. All I was trying to do was make sure that they are aware that there are possible other things that can help somewhat mitigate their problems."

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Meanwhile, Lara Trump also received criticism for doing the same thing. She appeared to be highly inconsiderate to workers suffering from the shutdown. 

During an interview on Fox News, Lara said: 

“Listen, it’s not fair to you, and we all get this, but this is so much bigger than any one person. It’s a little bit of pain, but it’s going to be for the future of our country.”

The backlash rolled in, but Lara struck back. In a Twitter post, she said that "Fake News is rampant these days. Don't believe the #MSM who overreact without research and didn't bother to watch my whole interview."

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Of course, the term "a little bit of pain" was what really hit hard. People continued to tell her off for her words. 

Meanwhile, the temporary cancelation of the shutdown arose due to record-breaking flight delays as a result of staff shortages. We hope this means that efforts will be made towards providing pay for federal workers. 

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