In fact, White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Kevin Hassett told “PBS NewsHour” that workers laid off during the shutdown are “better off,” since they can go on vacation but “they don’t have to use their vacation days.” Other Trump advisers have made similar comments.
This, of course, ignores the estimated 420,000 air-traffic controllers, TSA screeners, corrections officers, Border Patrol agents and others deemed “essential” who’ve had to continue working without pay (and in some cases actually cancel scheduled vacations). For these and the 380,000 workers on furlough, a promise of eventual back pay hardly feels like being “better off.”
Not only because that back pay may arrive weeks after mortgage payments and other bills come due. And not only because many have had to turn to the “handouts” — free meals, trips to food pantries, unemployment insurance — that the GOP has spent decades stigmatizing.
But also because they truly do find meaning, pride and feelings of self-worth through their jobs — i.e., all those psychic benefits of employment that Republicans usually talk about.