U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Thursday he can’t understand why some federal workers who are working without pay or who have been furloughed during the continuing partial government shutdown are turning to food banks and homeless shelters to try to provide for themselves and their families.
“I know they are, and I don’t really quite understand why,” Ross said in an interview on CNBC.
Ross, whose net worth in 2017 was estimated to be $2.5 billion, instead suggested that those workers should seek loans because “the banks and the credit unions should be making credit available to them.”
“True, the people might have to pay a little bit of interest,” Ross said. “But the idea that it’s paycheck or zero is not a really valid idea.”
Asked about reports that federal workers are going to homeless shelters to get food amid the shutdown, Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross says he doesn't "quite understand why" because their backpay is "in effect, federally guaranteed" and they should "be able to get a loan against it" pic.twitter.com/xHVJ94UO8p
— CNBC (@CNBC) January 24, 2019
Ross was a banker known for restructuring failed companies in industries before accepting the government position. He is known as the so-called “King of Bankrupcy,” because of his record in buying bankrupt companies, particularly those in steel and manufacturing, and later selling them for a fat profit after their operations improve.
As the shutdown stretched into its 34th day, Ross downplayed the number of federal employees who are being affected by the shutdown.
“Put it in perspective, you’re talking about 800,000 workers,” he told CNBC. “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.”
And the secretary termed it “disappointing” that some of the affected employees who have been ordered back to President Trump still are refusing to do so.
“There really is not a good excuse why there really should be a liquidity crisis,” Ross said.
What do you think of Ross’s attitude as the shutdown stretches on?