As odds increase to certainty that the federal government will shut down at midnight, hundreds of thousands of federal employees are preparing to work through Christmas without pay. Congressman Scott Perry (R-Pennsylvania) doesn’t see what the big deal is.
When asked about the shutdown by a Politico reporter, Perry expressed skepticism that any federal worker could be worried about making it to the next paycheck.
“Who’s living that they’re not going to make it to the next paycheck?” Perry said. He added: “Why are government employees so sacrosanct? Private sector employees deal with this all the time… The government’s not immune to these things.”
Then compared the shutdown to a private company, specifically like GM, closing.
"Why are government employees so sacrosanct? Private sector employees deal with this all the time… The government’s not immune to these things."
— Sarah Ferris (@sarahnferris) December 21, 2018
Perry defended his remarks to PennLive, saying that the broader point he was making was that all employees, whether public or private sector, ought to have a savings to rely on in emergencies like a government shutdown.
“It’s actually part of what you do when you sign up for any public service position,” said Congressman Mark Meadows (R-North Carolina), chair of the House Freedom Caucus, of which Perry is a member.
Meadows and Perry make $174,000 a year as members of Congress. Meanwhile, a CareerBuilder survey found that 78 percent of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck. 40 percent of Americans can’t afford food and shelter.
Relatively new Customs and Border Protection agents, who are arguably the federal employees who stand to engage with if not benefit from the border wall, make $45,000 a year, but will work without pay during the shutdown. Assuming biweekly pay, that means that before taxes, the paycheck they’ll miss is $1,700.
Perry only narrowly won re-election, but is already making the case to his constituents that he doesn’t understand their financial situation.