Just reading the headlines makes me wonder where the economic recovery is. Roughly three-quarters of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, with little to no emergency savings, according to a survey released by Bankrate.com on Monday.

In addition, according to a TransUnion report the auto-loan delinquency rates inched up in the first quarter, due largely to an increase in subprime loan balances. 

When our American children cannot visit the White House due to the sequester reductions, how can the White House explain the expensive vacations the first family feels entitled to?

- Rosario Marin, Former U.S. Treasurer

The picture is not rosy when, according to the Federal Reserve Bank report of last year, the average U.S. family's wealth plunged 40 percent in the recession. Worse yet, the report showed that the biggest reduction in net worth, in percentage terms, affected young middle-age families, those headed by 35- to 44-year-olds. Their median net worth — total assets minus debts — dropped 54 percent to $42,100 over the period.

If we add the expected increases in healthcare costs we can safely say that the hard working taxpayers and their families will have to work harder and longer just to make ends meet. That is if they can find a job, keep it, and/or add more hours. 

In the meantime the president and the first family are on their way to Africa on a taxpayer-funded trip with an astronomical cost of $100 million. It almost appears like this White House is either tone-deaf to the plight of hardworking taxpayers or worse yet, it just doesn’t care.

When our American children cannot visit the White House due to the sequester reductions, how can the White House explain the expensive vacations the first family feels entitled to? Why didn’t the sequester cuts trigger a reduction in executive travel?

I am all for the president doing his job, although many would say that he is performing ever so poorly. His approval ratings are at an astonishingly low 44 percent, hardly enough to make a case for a vacation, much less such an expensive one. Clearly, Africa is an important continent, but really, when so many Americans are nixing their vacations, cutting their vacation days or simply just enjoying their stay-cations; would it be too much to ask the White House to be more sensitive, to not flaunt their ostentatious ways? There is a saying in Mexico: “No cuentes el dinero enfrente de los pobres,” which translates to: “Do not count your money in front of the poor.”  

I know times have been tough for most Americans: many are still without a job. Some just simply stopped looking for one. Regrettably too many (47 million) are still dependent on the largesse and generosity of the small and getting smaller group of taxpayers for some financial assistance. Yet Americans are resilient. We meet challenges head on, not because the government helps us, but more often than not, in spite of the government’s intervention. 

All this bad news coming out of Washington one day will subside. I just hope it doesn’t take three years; wait, maybe the President can stay in Africa all that time on a permanent vacation. Now… that would be some good news.

Rosario Marin served as the 41st U.S. Treasurer under President George W. Bush.  She is the author of "Leading Between Two Worlds Lessons" from the first Mexican-born Treasurer of the United States.

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