By Michelle Singletary
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 22, 2010; 10:08 PM
Nobody is safe.
Velma Hart, who burst onto the media scene after telling President Obama she was scared about her financial future, has been laid off. Hart was let go as the chief financial officer for Am Vets, a nonprofit Maryland-based veteran services organization.
Hart has become another casualty of the tough economy in which so many people have lost their jobs.
"It's not anything she did," said Jim King, the national executive director of Am Vets. "She got bit by the same snake that has bit a lot of people. It was a move to cut our bottom line. Most not-for-profits are seeing their money pinched."
King would not say whether the organization had had other layoffs.
"Velma was a good employee," he said. "It was just a matter of looking at the bottom line and where could we make the best cuts and survive."
King hadn't seen the irony in Hart being fired just two months after she emotionally told Obama about her fears for her own financial well-being during a town hall meeting in Washington.
"I hadn't thought about this in connection to the town hall meeting. She was at the town hall as a private citizen. Whatever she had to say were her own thoughts," he said.
Hart's comments to Obama became political fodder as proof that the president was losing his die-hard supporters - African American voters. Hart told me at the time that she still supported Obama but that she had expected more changes by now.
She said what really disappointed her is that the change and better economic conditions Obama promised haven't come fast enough.
"My husband and I joked for years that we thought we were well beyond the hot-dogs-and-beans era of our lives," she said during the CNBC town hall broadcast. "But quite frankly, it's starting to knock on our door and ring true that that might be where we're headed again. And quite frankly, Mr. President, I need you to answer this honestly: Is this my new reality?"
Well, unemployment has not just knocked on the door of the former Army reservist. It has busted through the door.
When contacted Monday, Hart would not discuss the matter.
In an interview with me two months ago, she said that although her personal finances were in pretty good shape, she was worried. She has two daughters in private school, and the oldest is looking at colleges. Although her husband is employed, she was concerned about higher consumer prices. She talked about her home value being down. She talked about feeling anxious.
"You don't have to be on the street to be struggling," Hart said in the earlier interview. There are different degrees of struggling."
Hart said telling Obama that her family might be forced to dine regularly on hot dogs and beans was just an attempt at levity.
"It was symbolic," she said. "I'm a lot more fortunate than others."
But in what is clearly a too-eerie situation, Hart foretold her future.
"We are all caught in the middle of the insanity," she said.
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