January 24, 2019


'Am I out of touch?': Trump administration struggles to show empathy for workers. (Philip Rucker, Josh Dawsey and Damian Paletta January 24, 2019, Washington Post)

On Day 34 of the government shutdown, with federal workers set to miss their second straight paycheck on Friday, the Trump administration was prominently represented by two denizens of Wall Street: Wilbur Ross and Larry Kudlow.

Ross, the commerce secretary, on Thursday morning bemoaned air traffic controllers, who he incorrectly said were calling in sick, and added in a CNBC interview, "I don't really quite understand why" federal workers were visiting food banks. Instead, he suggested they apply for loans from banks.

Then came Kudlow, the top White House economic adviser, who called the shutdown "just a glitch." He went on in a midday gaggle with reporters: "Am I out of touch? I don't think I'm out of touch. I'm addressing the problem. I've met with my individual staff members and 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."

The twin appearances underscored a tone-deafness that has appeared more pronounced in the Trump administration as the plight of about 800,000 unpaid federal workers worsens. And it has become a fresh vulnerability for Democrats to exploit at a moment when polls show Trump already losing the public opinion battle over the shutdown.

"Is this the 'Let them eat cake' kind of attitude?" House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) asked Thursday. "Or, 'Call your father for money'? Or, 'This is character-building for you. It's all going to end up very well just so long as you don't get your paychecks'?" [...]

Peter Wehner, a former official in the past three Republican administrations and a Trump critic, said the president is "lacking an empathy gene. This is a man who hasn't shown empathy throughout his entire life, so to expect him to show empathy toward federal workers who are suffering is just not going to happen."

Posted by at January 24, 2019 8:57 PM