The ‘Let Them Eat Cake’ Administration

A little over two weeks ago when Trump gave his Oval Office speech about the government shutdown, a lot of people noted that he never mentioned the federal employees who were going without pay. In retrospect, perhaps that was a good thing, because over the last few days several people in the president’s orbit have come awfully close to saying something similar to the fabled quote from Marie Antoinette: “Let them eat cake.”

First came Lara Trump (Eric’s wife), who suggested that unpaid federal workers were experiencing “a little bit of pain,” but it was all “for the future of our country.”

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross isn’t able to comprehend why unpaid federal workers are having to rely on food banks when they could just go out and get a loan. Besides, there aren’t really that many of them anyway.

“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,” he said of the affected federal employees. “So, it’s not like it’s a gigantic number overall.”

Trump’s economic advisor Larry Kudlow suggested that unpaid federal workers are “volunteering.” When asked to clarify, he said that they are volunteering because of “their love for the country and the office of the presidency and presumably their allegiance to President Trump.”

Obviously none of these people are paying any attention to the unpaid federal workers that my colleague Tabitha Sanders wrote about on Thursday. And that’s because they “really don’t care. Do you?”

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.