POLITICS

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Jokes That 'Unemployed Worker' To Blame For Turbulence

The Trump administration is facing criticism after some companies reported that steel tariffs are leading them to lay off workers.
Ross speaks at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., two days before cracking the joke aboard Air Force One.
Ross speaks at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., two days before cracking the joke aboard Air Force One.

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross raised a few eyebrows Thursday when he joked that an unemployed person was to blame for his plane’s bumpy landing.

Ross cracked the joke aboard Air Force One en route to Dubuque, Iowa, while answering a reporter’s question asking if there was a link between President Donald Trump’s new steel tariffs and layoffs at the country’s largest nail manufacturer.

“So anybody who thinks that the steel and aluminum tariffs have been ― this must be some unemployed worker shaking the plane,” said Ross, whose job requires him to promote American industries and foster employment. He laughed as the plane bounced during its landing, adding, “Anyhow, anybody who thinks that it has hurt employment simply doesn’t read the weekly statistics.”

Ross, a former billionaire financier, has a history of ill-advised jokes. While speaking at a conference last year, he compared a U.S. airstrike on Syria to “after-dinner entertainment” for Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, who both were dining at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.

“Just as dessert was being served, the president explained to Mr. Xi he had something he wanted to tell him, which was the launching of 59 missiles into Syria. It was in lieu of after-dinner entertainment,” he said, adding later, “The thing was, it didn’t cost the president anything to have that entertainment.”

In actuality, the cost of launching those 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles was about $60 million.

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