How Sequestration Will Hurt My Family
[Editor's Note: With the March 1 deadline just days away, the massive budget cuts called the sequester are beginning to look inevitable. More details are coming out about how the $85 million in cutbacks will affect all kinds of services that get federal funding -- including schools, law enforcement, and air travel security. And as Carol writes, all those government employees have families that will also be impacted. --Grace]
I tend to lean towards the left when I am discussing social issues, and tend to lean more towards the right when discussing fiscal issues, but right now I am leaning towards disgust with both sides.
I am not extremely politically savvy. I don't understand all of the subtle nuances of the budget, debt ceiling, deficit reduction etc. I read about it, but to be honest it seems to me there is a lack of nonpartisan articles out there. Some have their viewpoint (Democrat) and says the Republicans suck. Others have their viewpoint (Republican) and says President Obama and the Democrats suck. The list of partisan websites goes on and on. However, I have yet to read an article that blames them ALL. THAT is what I want. Something that gives me just the facts. So after reading and reading I have come up with what seems to me to be the facts.
We are in terrible debt. Our economy is a mess and we keep spending money. We spend too much on Medicare and Social Security. Medicare, Medicaid and entitlements are in bad need of reforms. The rich get richer while the poor get poorer. I was in favor of the richest of the rich paying higher taxes. Not because I am jealous, but because if I was in their shoes, I would be okay with giving more to help those who have less. I can only assume that others share the same ideals I do. I can't be the only one.
I am also okay with getting rid of loopholes for oil companies and super wealthy Americans. That is a revenue. I suppose it is a "tax increase" as the Republicans tout it, but in my mind it really isn't so much an increase as it is a "fairness meter" to level the playing field a bit.
Okay, so all of that being said, I understand that President Obama originally put the Sequester before Congress. I believe he was using it as a bluff. I don't think he thought that the Congress would let it happen. Quote from CBS News.com:
"The .2 trillion sequester cuts, which were initially set to kick in on Jan. 1, emerged out of Congress' 2011 budget negotiations. Congress agreed that if a congressional "supercommittee" couldn't come up with an acceptable deficit reduction plan, Congress would just slash .2 trillion from the budget over 10 years -- half coming from defense spending and half from non-defense. The cuts were designed to be so drastic that Republicans and Democrats would be compelled to craft an alternate, bipartisan agreement on deficit reduction."
So that tells me the sequester was agreed on by EVERYONE. Now we are just a few days away from the sequester happening and Congress just came back from a week-long vacation. Seriously??? WTF???
If the Sequester happens thousands of civil service workers will be forced to take a 22 day furlough. That is 22 days off without pay. In order to make this forced pay cut more manageable for families instead of 22 days off in a row without pay, each worker will have one unpaid day off per week, or four unpaid days per month. Unfortunately for us, Bluebell is a civil service worker. She will get 22 days off without pay.
This is a BIG deal. I know for my family that means a loss of over $600.00per month in income. That is A LOT of money to remove from a family budget.
That basically equals 1.5 of my paychecks, so I am working for free for three weeks!
We recently had a family meeting and talked to the boys about what was going on and if the furlough happens what it will mean for our family. It means No eating out. No hot school lunches. They have to pack every day. It means no more allowance, a timer for showers (10 minutes only) and a serious reduction in our grocery bill. No more snacks, just basic necessities. No more hair appointments for me, back to coloring my hair with a bottle.
If the furlough extends for any length of time, it means no Boy Scout summer camp this year, no summer swim league, no family weekend camping trips and possibly no graduation celebration for our High School graduate. It means I have to work every Saturday to try and bring in extra income. It also means we have to use our income tax refunds to pay bills. No extras this year. This may not seem like a big deal to y'all, but it is a big change for our family lifestyle. The total loss of income to my family will be over $4000.00. That money has to be absorbed elsewhere in my budget because the mortgage needs to be paid. We need water and electricity and heat. Our home may have extremely limited air conditioning this summer. That is not pretty in Southeastern Virginia.
I have to say I was very proud of our boys, because when we had this meeting there was not ONE single complaint out of any of them. In fact, they asked what they could do to help out the family. That was a very proud mama moment for me.
Congress, and the President could learn a lesson from my boys. My boys could teach them that when times are tough we rally together and pitch in to make it work. We compromise and reach a deal that everybody can settle on. These are values Bluebell and I taught our boys when they were in Kindergarten. Maybe Congress and the President need to spend some time in Kindergarten to relearn how to compromise and get along.
There are thousands of families that will be affected here in Virginia. If every family has to tighten up the way we will, I wonder how long it will be before local businesses are affected?? The economy on this area will no longer be inching up, but will come to a screaming standstill.
I don't lay all of the blame on the President's doorstep. Nor do I blame only Congress. I blame them all. I have decided I am making it my personal mission to email and/or call EVERY Congressperson, Senator and the President to ask them why they feel it is okay to make American families suffer financial consequences such as these. I am also going to ask them why THEY do not have to receive furlough. They are Federal employees also. Why are they above suffering along with their constituents?
I urge you all to join me in asking our Representatives these questions. They need to know the American people are not happy. Many people will agree with me, but I wonder how many will actually take the time to contact them. If you are willing ti put your money (pun intended) where your mouth is, here is a list of all the United States Congressional Representatives with phone numbers. If you click on their name you go to their website where you can get their email addresses. Here is a list of Senators. And the White House.
I am starting my email campaign today. Will you join me?