Editor’s note: Below is a press release, in its entirety, from Congressman Scott Peters’ office. Publishing press releases is not something we at the SDFP typically do. Normally, if it is a story worth covering, we will pull a relevant quote or two from the release.
But in this instance, as “Editor du Jour,” I have made a judgement call and decided to post it as issued. This, to say the least, is an unusual step. But it is not often that our local public officials get adequate coverage for doing some of the good things they do, and this is a case of Congressman Peters putting his money where his mouth is, so to speak. It is very easy to pay lip service to the damage the sequester is doing to ordinary people, but it is another thing to stand tall and take action, no matter how small it may seem.
Congressman Peters’ actions in forgoing a portion of his pay may appear to be nothing more than an act of political theater, but it will make a difference, and it sends a clear message that at least one member of San Diego’s Congressional delegation “gets it.”
Perhaps there is a larger story to be written here, and it is certainly worth looking into. In the meantime, however, in the interest of timeliness, I felt it was worth publishing.
Editorial Board Member
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today (Tuesday) Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) applied the across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration to his own paycheck, stating that “any rules Congress imposes on federal employees and all Americans ought to apply to us, too.” He will take eight percent of his monthly salary, which equates to about $1,300 per month, and donate it to the Senior Community Center of San Diego to supplement meals for at-risk seniors. The Senior Community Centers has had to cut services to seniors, many of whom are veterans, due to funding losses from the sequester.
“While the idea for the sequester predates my time in Congress, we should all agree that it is terrible policy; none of us would run our business or household budget this way, and it is no way to run a country,” Congressman Peters said. “In March I introduced a motion to end the sequester and I will continue to look for opportunities to fix it.
(Video: Congressman Peters’ motion to end the sequester can be seen here)
“Federal employees, military contractors, and thousands of small businesses and individuals who contract with the federal government are being forced to take indiscriminate pay cuts. Members of Congress should share the impact of these cuts as well.”
“Senior Community Centers has lost nearly $60,000 for our senior meal program due to sequestration. That equates to about 21,000 fewer meals we are able to provide this year,” said Paul Downey, CEO and President.
“Nearly ninety-five percent of the seniors we serve are at or below the poverty line, so these meals make a big difference to their health and their lives. We are grateful to Congressman Peters for his long-time interest and support of what we do, and very much appreciate his leadership and his willingness to do his part to help us help the needy seniors we serve,” he said.
“In San Diego there are more than 30,000 people taking furlough days, and countless other programs are reducing services,” Rep. Peters said. “It is my hope that Washington can finally have an adult discussion about our nation’s priorities and the budgeting process.
“The Senior Community Centers in San Diego provide life line resources for some of my most vulnerable constituents: low-income seniors, many of whom are below the poverty line, who might not otherwise get the food and care they need. Sequestration has hit these centers extremely hard, as it has many other organizations in our region. By donating the sequestered amount of my own pay, at least we can provide some relief from these cuts to area seniors and elderly veterans.”
Senior Community Centers of San Diego noted the impact that the donation would have on their facility: “At Senior Community Centers our cost per meal is $2.65. With $1000, we could provide 377 more nutritious meals to seniors. This investment in meals keeps our seniors well, and reduces the need for more costly healthcare interventions. In San Diego, an emergency room visit begins at $765, while one day in the hospital costs $4,373. Additionally, meals provide social engagement, and educational and wellness opportunities. 71% of older adults who participate in the nutrition program at the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center participate in other activities or seek assistance with clinical services.”