Velma Hart spoke to President Obama in September at a town hall meeting, and pronounced herself “exhausted with defending” the President and his policies. Her mother lost a bundle in retirement savings during the recession. Friends of hers had problems finding work. She had a teenage girl headed to college next year. She put off buying a new car, despite repairs needed on her old one. She said then that she “voted for a man who said he’s going to change things in a meaningful way for the middle class. I’m one of those people, and I’m waiting, sir. I’m waiting. I don’t feel it yet.”
At the time, Hart was a chief financial officer for AmVets, a nonprofit veterans service organization. Now she’s out of work. AmVets laid her off yesterday in a cost-cutting measure.
“I want to focus on the positive and be optimistic,” said Hart, who lives in Upper Marlboro, Md. “And assume that somehow things will work out, that there’s an opportunity out there with Velma’s name on it that’s right around the corner.”
AmVets executive director Jim King told The Washington Post that the nonprofit was looking for ways to survive financially.
“It’s not anything she did,” King told the Post for a story that appeared online Monday. “She got bit by the same snake that has bit a lot of people. It was a move to cut our bottom line.”
While Hart still supports the President, she finds the prospect of unemployment “scary.”
She should. The Federal Reserve just released their jobs projections for the next three years, and they believe they will remain elevated well into 2013. They see around 9% unemployment at the end of 2011 and 8% at the end of 2012. It will be difficult for the Velma Harts of the world to find a new job in this environment. And there will be no fiscal policy, and if the Republicans have their way no monetary policy, designed to accelerate job growth.
Velma Hart’s struggle matches the struggle of millions of Americans, who are wondering whether they’re seeing a “new normal,” with a permanent underclass of low- or no-income people living in fear and suffering, and a permanent overclass of the rich and powerful living high on the hog. That’s a possibility that should keep anyone seeking re-election in 2012 awake at night.