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As sequestration nears, federal workers brace for furloughs, vent anger at politicians

by on February 28, 2013

WASHINGTON — As a single dad with seven kids living at home, Bill Blevins is used to pinching every penny.
The 48-year-old building engineer at the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing hasn’t had a cost-of-living pay raise in more than two years, even as his rent and insurance premiums went up. Now he and other federal workers in Washington and across the country are bracing for possible unpaid furloughs as part of an $85 billion reduction in federal spending. Known as sequestration, the automatic, across-the-board budget cuts are scheduled to kick in unless Congress and the White House can reach a compromise by Friday.
Although Blevins doesn’t expect furloughs to hit his office right away – so far the bureau says it plans to operate as usual – the uncertainty makes him take his ulcer medicine a little more often these days.
“I’ll have to keep a bottle nearby” if furloughs hit, he joked.
“Rent’s due the first of the month whether I’m furloughed or not,” said Blevins, who commutes from his home in Culpeper, Va., to his night shift job in Washington. “You just really have to squeeze a little more out of each dollar. That’s just what it comes down to.”
All across the D.C. area and the rest of the country, federal workers like Blevins are having tense, belt-tightening conversations with spouses, kids and co-workers. They’re canceling little luxuries such as cable, cellphone service, restaurants and movie nights, putting off long-planned vacations and searching for second jobs. Some are thinking about raiding their 401(k)s for emergency cash.
It’s lost on none of them that they’re being forced to slash their own families’ budgets because politicians can’t agree on how to balance the federal budget.
“They expect us to do our jobs, so we expect them to do their jobs,” said Marsha Hayden, a 61-year-old microbiologist with the Food and Drug Administration from Adelphi, Md.
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From → Sequestration

One Comment
  1. Anonymous permalink

    As a retired DOD federal employee, these folk are all misguided. Congress didn’t create the sequestration. Obozo and the crook Jack Lew created this mess. Now it is blowing up in their face and they are running for cover. As for the size of the federal workforce, 4.4M as of 2011? To many. The president and congress are charged with few things, but one is defense of the nation. That being said, there are to many federal programs that serve little real function or are over-staffed. That includes DOD. For 33 years I went to training to learn how to run a government operation as a “business enterprise” – ludicrous. Can’t be done and has never worked. I went through three or four iterations of training with the belief that somehow it was going to make the government “more efficient”. The only thing that I witnessed that created more efficiency was the implementation of automations with varying degrees of success. As is typical with government operations, even this approach was botched in so many ways, one could write a book. As for the “budget”. The one federal agency that really needs to be held together, but not with more spending is DOD. The government is bloated. I saw it happen in DOD with great dismay. People thought the wars and all the money that came with it were never going to end. Oooops. I was there when ten years of Vietnam ended. We went through the same process. This is nothing new. As for venting anger, call the White House and let them know what you think. I don’t care if you voted for him or not, this whole thing was Obummer’s idea.

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