On CNBC, Commerce Secretary Ross downplays effect of government shutdown: “I don't really quite understand” why federal employees need food banks

Wilbur Ross on federal employees facing hardships: “There's no real reason why they shouldn't be able to get a loan”

From the January 24 edition of CNBC's Squawk Box:

Video file

ANDREW ROSS SORKIN (CO-ANCHOR): Mr. Secretary, I wanted to come back for just a moment to the U.S. government shutdown. While here in Davos, I interviewed Alex Karp. He's the CEO of Palantir, a major government contractor in the United States, working on behalf of the Pentagon and the Defense Department. He said that the government shutdown, he believed, was terribly damaging to the brand of our country. Do you believe that?

WILBUR ROSS (SECRETARY OF COMMERCE): I think that's a great deal of hyperbole. We've had shutdowns before, albeit for not such a long period as we've been thus far. But put it in perspective. You're talking about 800,000 workers, 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 SORKIN: Mr. Secretary, but -- Mr. Secretary, there are reports that there are some federal workers who are going to homeless shelters to get food. 

ROSS: Well, I know they are, and I don't really quite understand why 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. So, the 30 days of pay that some people will be out, there's no real reason why they shouldn't be able to get a loan against it. 


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