People from around the country have poured their heart out to me, a complete stranger, in response to my petition. Not only did I not expect hundreds of thousands of people to stand with me, I have been totally taken off guard by the sheer number of emails I have received. With each new note, my heart breaks and it sings. The frustration, anger and even suspicion people have shared with me has been offset by a continued resilience that is a core American trait.
The question, "What do we do?" has yet to find an answer. However, as we seek that answer, let me anonymously share with you some of the most profound emails I have received.
Rep Russell,Your petition is one of the few ways anyone can get their voice heard on this important issue. I'm a fairly senior GS, so I can't just walk away for a day. Here's part of my Facebook post that accompanied the link to the petition:"To put this budget thing into perspective, when the President signs the order to start sequestration, he is basically ordering me to work one day less per week and not get paid (a 20% reduction in my net income). Oh by the way, I still have to get everything done so I just have 8 less hours (well really 10 because my days are longer) to do it (and lose money... did I mention that). I'm still responsible for getting my job done.
Congress, however, went home today (1 March) because they didn't want to fight (they DID get paid for today). They have not done their job and will not have to face furlough or pay cuts.
So, my family takes a 20% cut in pay and I have to work harder across 4 days to get the same amount of work done as a 5 day week. Congress doesn't have to do what we elected them to do (pass a freakin' budget) and they not only get full pay, they will also enjoy a full retirement (100% of their current pay beginning the day they walk out the door). Trying to figure out the checks and balances here."Some of the more junior Feds are planning to just stop work and let the job go undone for a day, as they should since a lot of them live paycheck-to-paycheck. That will, however, put us further behind or put the onous on the few military in their shops.Please let me know if there's anything I can do to help you in this fight. There are a lot of Federal employees, like me, who took jobs with our Government to serve our country. Private sector is much more lucrative, but we genuinely want to make a difference with our skill sets.
Hello Rep. Russell,
Thank you for responding to my comments. I will share your response with my colleagues.
Because I work in Defense accounting, all employees must have stellar credit to keep their positions. Our incomes enable us to pay our debts which result in our ability to continue to hold these positions. With each missed pay period we will move closer to losing what we struggle to maintain: our daily investment to support our warriors and their families around the world as well as our own livelihood. As you know many people are cynical about any resolution before the furlough will take effect. I pray that we will not be out for a long period of time.Thank you. I have been a conservative Republican for 57 years and can"t believe people like Paul Ryan and Rand Paul and the new Rep from KY who does everything Rand Paul tells him. I voted for the guys, last time, but because of the Tea Party we will never see the White House for the next 16 years. No matter how mant times you write, these people they really believe that we're all dummies and their smarter.I have become a Democrat for the first time. I will sign your petition. God bless Rep. Duckworth and you.Dear Rep. Russell,I appreciate your petition. I was wondering how much of a pay cut Rep. Duckworth took and have you also taken one? Thank you for your time!My Response:The article about Rep. Duckworth's pay cut is here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/02/27/tammy-duckworth-to-take-8-4-percent-pay-cut-if-sequester-happens/As for me - I'm not in Congress, but I have introduced a pay cut requirement should we end up in a State Shutdown, which is currently being debated in the media sadly: http://bangordailynews.com/2013/03/04/politics/emergency-bill-would-shut-off-legislators-pay-during-government-shutdown/Regards,~Diane
So, I don't read that you followed suit.Hi Diane,I changed my mind. I won't support you for Congress. You should run for president!Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today. Besides getting a jolt of hope I really enjoyed getting to know you.If you ever make it out to Fort Wayne, you have a ride in a 91 Cavalier awaiting you. With the top down hopefully, and if it isn't, at least you won't get wet.Please send me anything you're working on. And I'll do the same.
Thank you for the note updating the progress even though it's only minimal. Anytime you need support when it comes to banging a few heads in Washington that seem to be immune to what individuals go through....count on my support.Exiled Mainer living in MI.
Rep. Diane Russell
Thank you for attempting to truly represent the American people! Why should the American people be forced to bear the brunt of the down economy and the effects of elected officials not doing their job. This is happening while our government is sending money, food and aid to countries that would love for our system to fail! I might add that while this has been occurring the government has increased in size and until now not suffered any reduction in pay or benefits! The Government will fail if it doesn’t manage itself and live within its means!
Thank you for your efforts,
A Very Unhappy Citizen