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Trump brings back adviser who said workers were 'better off' not being paid

Kevin Hassett will return to the White House as an adviser to Trump amid a growing economic crisis and global pandemic.

By Dan Desai Martin - March 20, 2020
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Kevin Hassett

Kevin Hassett, Donald Trump’s former chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, is returning to the White House amid the economic fallout surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, the Hill reported on Friday.

Hassett will return temporarily to serve as an adviser to Trump on economic policy in his personal capacity, meaning he will not be a government employee.

Hassett, who served as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers from April 2017 through June 2019, has a long record of controversial statements.

After Trump initiated a partial government shutdown in late 2018 and early 2019, Hassett defended him, saying that federal workers might be better off not receiving a paycheck.

“A huge share of government workers were going to take vacation days, say between Christmas and New Year’s,” Hassett told PBS NewsHour in January 2019. “And then we have a shutdown, and so they can’t go to work. So then they have the vacation, but they don’t have to use their vacation days.”

Hassett concluded, “In some sense, they’re better off.”

During the shutdown, 1 in 4 federal workers were forced to visit a food bank to feed themselves and their families.

Hassett also failed to downplay concerns about companies impacted by Trump’s ongoing trade war with China.

“There are a heck of a lot of U.S. companies that have sales in China that are going to be watching their earnings being downgraded next year until we get a deal with China,” Hassett told CNN in January 2019.

The trade war with China indeed hurt many businesses and took a huge toll on the nation’s farmers, many of whom were forced to file for bankruptcy. The rate of farmer suicides has also increased as families struggled with the repercussions of the trade war.

Earlier this week, Hassett told CNN that “the odds of a global recession are close to 100% right now,” because of the ongiong coronavirus pandemic. His gloom and doom predictions didn’t stop there.

“I think the U.S., we’re going to have a very terrible second quarter,” Hassett added. “You know we just ran the numbers … carefully over the weekend, and we think the second quarter is going to be minus 5%, and we think the jobs number in early April might me as much as minus a million or so, because … nobody’s going to get hired next week.”

The Trump administration spent weeks in February and early March ignoring and downplaying the significance of the coronavirus outbreak.

As recently as March 10, Trump waved off concerns about the growing pandemic, saying, “We’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it.” He added that “it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.”

The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global health pandemic the very next day.

With the stock markets now plummeting, the White House is turning to Hassett to help deal with the dire economic situation.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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