As 800,000 federal employees were set to be furloughed due to a government shutdown on Tuesday, a Republican lawmaker with a net worth of around $6 million was positively cheerful about the situation, telling NPR that it was his "idea of fun."
Following an impasse that resulted in Republicans failing at both delaying President Barack Obama's health care reform law and stopping a government shutdown, Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) insisted to NPR that the GOP had used the right tactics.
"It's been fascinating because in some ways we had to go through -- I don't want to refer to it as dance -- but this process for a lot of the American people to actually start to tune in and understand what we were talking about and where the concerns were and where we thought -- actually, the way the health care law was written is damaging the economy and creating sort of a part-time kind of America," he declared.
Schweikert asserted that using a government shutdown to try to stop a law was "nothing new."
"The process is actually designed where you expected the Senate to throw back an offer and you expect the House to do its dance," he continued. "You've got to understand, the previous shutdowns -- what is it, 17 of them, at least during my lifetime -- have all been in some subject about funding."
The NPR host pointed out that a "silent majority" of House Republicans now reportedly thought that the shutdown was not in the best interest of the country.
"Well, I think there's always a sense that it's very uncomfortable when now you're up against a government slowdown," Schweikert remarked. "I see a division even on the left side. Even look at some of last night's votes, where we had Republicans voting no and Democrats voting yes."
"This is my idea of fun," he added in conclusion.
On Tuesday, the U.S. government began the process of furloughing and suspending the pay of 800,000 workers. While workers did receive back pay in the 1995-96 shutdown, it was not clear if or when the austerity-minded lawmakers would do the same for the current employees. To make matters worse, many workers were already facing furloughs over the so-called "sequestration" spending cuts imposed earlier this year.
However, Schweikert and other lawmakers will continue to get paid while the government is in shutdown mode. But with a net worth of $6,165,011, the Arizona Republican could probably survive an unpaid furlough better than many Americans.
Listen to the audio below from NPR, broadcast Oct. 1, 2013.
(h/t: Blunt and Cranky)