As the government shutdown drags on into its fourth week, federal employees across the country are struggling to make ends meet. Approximately 800,000 government employees have gone without pay since the shutdown began. Donald Trump’s chief economic advisor Kevin Hassett has some suggestions on how to deal with this cash crunch until the government is working again — but they may not be what struggling employees were hoping for.
According to the Independent, Hassett has suggested that furloughed government employees take out loans in order to handle the financial strain. In an interview with Fox News, Hassett pointed out that there are many options available for people who have been impacted by the government shutdown. He even referenced a colleague who has been driving Uber in order to pay his bills.
“There are many steps that people can take,” Hassett said during the interview. “They should contact their supervisors in order to help them with their federal credit unions making low-interest loans and so on. As soon as it’s resolved then people will get their paychecks and the government will go back to acting normal.”
Hassett was also quick to point out that employees will be getting back pay once the government is working again. However, even he had to admit that doesn’t really help people who are struggling right now.
White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett on furloughed workers:— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) January 11, 2019
“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. Then they're—in some sense they're better off." pic.twitter.com/DWtLWE1RFz
Many people have struck back against Hassett following these statements for a number of reasons. Some have pointed out that taking out loans — even low-interest ones — can have a disastrous effect on a family’s financial situation long term. Others have pointed out that government employees who are still expected to be at work despite not receiving pay (such as TSA agents, IRS agents, and those working in the food inspection industry) simply don’t have the time to take on a second or third job.
And despite rising pushback from government employees, it doesn’t look like the shutdown is going to end any time soon. Donald Trump has reached a stalemate with House Democrats, refusing to compromise in any way to get the government running again. Trump has stated repeatedly that he will not end the shutdown until Democrats agree to pay for his border wall in Mexico — a move that Democrats have categorically rejected.
Financial regulators have been working with banks to help employees in the wake of the shutdown. Many reports, including one from People, have come in of government workers forced to sacrifice their basic needs — including food and medical care — since the government shutdown started.