When Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said this morning that he can’t “quite understand why” some federal workers affected by the shutdown are relying on food banks, it reflected a Trump administration that’s badly out of touch.
The latest comments from Larry Kudlow, the director of the White House’s National Economic Council, are almost certainly worse.
Around the same time he made his first shutdown-related gaffe of the day, Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow stepped in it again, saying that the hundreds of thousands of federal employees working without pay were “volunteering” because of “their love for the country and the office of the presidency and presumably their allegiance to President Trump.”
Earlier in the White House briefing room, responding to a reporter’s question, Kudlow said of unpaid federal workers: “God bless them. They’re working for free. They’re volunteering. But they do it because they believe government service is honorable and they believe in President Trump and they’re working as hard as ever.”
Obviously, by any reasonable definition of the word, those who’ve been ordered to work without pay have not “volunteered.”
When a reporter took issue with his characterization, Kudlow, visibly annoyed, dismissed the interest in “semantic games,” and sought to praise the federal workers who’ve been ordered to do their jobs without paychecks.
He added, in reference to the affected workers, “They do it because of their love for the country, and the office of the presidency, and presumably their allegiance to President Trump.”
I will gladly give credit to those who are doing their jobs without pay, but let’s not play games: these federal employees aren’t being given a lot of choices. They’re obviously in an incredibly difficult position, but these Americans are working because they’ve been ordered to show up.
They’re not “volunteering,” and while I can’t speak to their political beliefs, there’s no reason to assume they feel any “allegiance” to the president who shut down the government.