Ordinary Americans have lost plenty in this recession; what are politicians willing to sacrifice?

My daughter is in her second enlistment with the Air Force and is currently serving at Kandahar Air Base in Afghanistan through her assignment at Fort Meade.

I'm an employee of the state of Maryland and for the past three years have had my salary reduced through mandatory furloughs. I also continue to pay over $1,000 a year to park, but I remain grateful that I have a job.

My husband has been unemployed on and off since 2009. Just recently, he was 24 hours away from obtaining a start date for a construction supervisor job at BWI when he received a call rescinding the job offer because airport construction jobs were put on hold.

My home equity line of credit was cut off in 2009 because my house is no longer worth what it once was. I can't sell my home because I can't recover what I owe on it. I have a pool in my backyard that we once enjoyed as a family that I can no longer afford to maintain and run.

My husband and I have filed for divorce. My anxiety over finances, coupled with his frustration at not being gainfully employed, has broken us as individuals and destroyed our marriage.

I have done all I can do and given all I can give. I have juggled bills, sold my jewelry (including our wedding rings) and other personal items, cut back on my food bill, not taken vacation, and tried to maintain and repair my home as best I can (and, by the way, have managed not to "default" on my obligations).

Whose American Dream is this?

I need and want my elected officials to show me that they understand what I am going through (along with many others) by making a small sacrifice of any kind. How about pay for parking, take a salary reduction, reduce staff and office expenses, pay increased health insurance premiums, travel less and forgo vacations, reverse any existing legislation that provides automatic benefits to elected officials, take a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch?

Are elected officials supposed to represent me? I see nothing in the actions of the members of Congress that look anything like the choices I would make.

This month, when my daughter returns from serving her country in Afghanistan, what shall I tell her our elected officials have been doing?

Cathleen R. Smith lives in Pasadena.

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