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White House aide suggests unpaid government workers are ‘better off’ during shutdown

Posted at 9:49 AM, Jan 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-14 10:49:40-05

Kevin Hassett, the White House’s chief economic adviser, has suggested that nearly 800,000 federal workers who aren’t getting paid during the current partial government shutdown are “better off” because they’re on extended vacation.

“A huge share of government workers were going to take vacation days, say, between Christmas and New Year’s,” Hassett said during a “PBS Newshour” interview. “And then we have a shutdown, and so they can’t go to work, and so then they have the vacation, but they don’t have to use their vacation days. And then they come back, and then they get their back pay.”

It led Hassett to make this pronouncement:

“Then they’re, in some sense, they’re better off.”

This comment led to some scathing social media responses:

Later in the show, Hassett speculated that the shutdown will have no major, long-term consequences even though he said the shutdown has cost the economy at least $20 billion.

After passing the previous record on Friday, the partial shutdown is now the longest in U.S. history. President Donald Trump has refused to reopen the government unless the Congress provides him $5.7 billion for a wall along the southern border. This is a sticking point the Democrats have refused to budge on.

Hassett’s comments came as hundreds of thousands of federal workers have already missed their first check.