As the nation sits on pins and needles waiting for Congress to act on extending unemployment insurance, there’s one newly jobless woman who’s getting lots of attention. Velma Hart, the woman who infamously challenged President Obama on the country’s ailing economy, was recently laid off of her job as chief financial officer for Am Vets, a Maryland-based non-profit.
Velma Hart, a married mother of two daughters, grabbed headlines earlier this year during a CNBC town hall meeting, where she directly confronted the president on the country’s dismal economy. With two daughters in private school and a middle class income that was supposed to keep her family above water, Hart claimed she was still struggling. So she pointedly asked the president: Where’s the change?
"I’m exhausted of defending you," Hart told the president." I’m exhausted of defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for. And I’m deeply disappointed with where we are right now."
The president answered Hart the same way he’s continually answered the rest of the country, which is to say that he basically told her to wait it out. But for many, Hart’s testimony was an early progress report for millions of liberal and black voters who’ve been frustrated with Obama’s slow progress in getting the country back on its feet.
In an interview with the Washington Post after the town hall broadcast, Hart admitted that she had it better than many of struggling families. "It was symbolic," she said of her interaction with the president. "I’m a lot more fortunate than others."
Hart’s former employer said that the decision to let her go had nothing to do with her town hall testimony. "It’s not anything she did," Jim King, Am Vet’s executive director, told the Washington Post. "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."