The chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers admitted Wednesday that the U.S. economy could see 0 percent growth in the first quarter due to the partial government shutdown.
“If [the shutdown] extended for a whole quarter and given the fact that the first quarter tends to be low because of residual seasonality, then you could end up with a number close to zero in the first quarter,” Kevin Hassett said on CNN. “But then again, the second-quarter number would be humongous if the government reopened. It would be like 4 or 5 percent.”
Hassett previously came under fire for appearing to suggest that federal workers furloughed because of the shutdown are essentially getting a free vacation. “Then they come back, and then they get their back pay,” he told PBS NewsHour. “In some sense, they’re better off.”
Asked about the controversy on CNN, He said his words were taken “out of context to make it look like I don’t care about people who get their paychecks. . . . This idea that I’m a cold-hearted person who doesn’t care at all like a Scrooge that people don’t get their checks is the kind of — it’s the kind of example of what’s wrong with the media.”
The shutdown, the longest in U.S. history, entered its 33rd day on Wednesday, as about 800,000 federal workers continued to go without their paychecks. The Senate plans to vote Thursday on two bills that would reopen the government, although neither is expected to pass. One, backed by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Trump, offers some protections for young immigrants in exchange for the $5.7 billion the president is requesting to fund a southern border wall. The other, backed by Democrats, would reopen the government without appropriating funds for the wall.