Texan: I Can’t Pay The Bills Because Of The Shutdown

As the federal government shutdown continues, Dave Montalvo, left, and Michael Gonzales, of the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists representing the aviation safety inspectors of the FAA, rally for an end to the shutdown in front of the Social Security Administration offices on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in Phoenix. Other groups rallying to end the government shutdown include the American Federation of Government Employees AFL-CIO, Alliance For Retired Americans, and Arizona FairShare. (AP/Ross D. Franklin)

Thomas Kewitt is 44. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Aviation Management and an MBA. He enjoys target shooting, hunting, and football.

His real passion, though, is real estate.

As a realty specialist who has worked with the Federal Aviation Administration for 12 years, he advises the FAA on multiple aspects of managing its property, including office space, land for navigation, radar facilities, and air traffic control towers.

Kewitt turned down a change for higher paychecks with a job in the private sector and instead chose to work for the FAA. That’s because he wanted to help people, he said, and felt a sense of stability working for the government. As a federal employee, he took the same oath of office as members of Congress, promising that we would “well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter.”

Last year, he purchased a new home because the market conditions were finally looking good, and he had reliable paychecks hitting his bank account every month from the FAA. The down payment was a significant sum of money because Kewitt’s real estate knowledge told him that was the best way to begin this investment.

Despite his fiscal preparation and planning, Kewitt’s house payments are looking bleak.

Kewitt has been deemed a “non-essential” furloughed employee and worries that if the shutdown continues, he’s going to have to file for bankruptcy. He’s spoken with his creditors and the utility companies, but “they don’t seem too concerned or sympathetic that [he’s] a federal employee on furlough.”

So Kewitt’s on his own.

To find money to make the house payments,Kewitt has turned to Craigslist, where he’s selling his personal belongings. He’s started with everything he sees as non-essential—his exercise bike, for instance. If the shutdown continues much longer, though, Kewitt noted that his personal belongings will run out, and he will be unable to pay for his mortgage or car note.

Kewitt doesn’t complain about having to sell his possessions, though he admits that it’s “still hard to sell things for a fraction of what you paid so you can keep the lights and water on.”

Before Kewitt began working for the FAA, he was “a life-long Republican whose views have always been pretty conservative,” and strongly believed in fiscal and personal responsibility, ideals which he said he still values.

But something began to change several years ago. It’s hard for him to pinpoint exactly when it happened, but more and more Kewitt said he was beginning to feel that the leaders of the Republican Party had a “total contempt for the federal work force.”

Kewitt doesn’t feel his values have changed, but said he thinks today’s Republican party would not even consider him a moderate. At some point in the last decade, Kewitt said, he believes “the lunatic fringe” took over his party and began working for “the CEO class and the top tax bracket” rather than guys like him.

He feels that the party has focused more on providing soundbites and photo-ops instead of upholding the principles in which he believes. That bothers a guy like Kewitt, who prefers watching congressional proceedings on CSPAN to listening to pundits. He doesn’t understand why so many Republicans seemed happy about taking actions that could cost him his livelihood.

Kewitt has come to the unfortunate conclusion that the party he once believed in is not the party that exists now. It has “an obsession with Obamacare,” and its “vision for America is truly scary,” he said. The Republican Party, he added, has evolved into an “anti-government, anti-federal employee,” and has “total contempt for the federal work force.”

Kewitt told Generation Progress that when he sees Republicans on television saying they want to keep the government shutdown for months all he can think about is that he’ll be out on the street by then.

“They would have no problem keeping essential workers on the job for months without a paycheck,” Kewitt said.

Despite doing everything that he’s supposed to do to secure the American Dream, Kewitt faces losing everything because of a shutdown engineered by the party he used to believe in. He says he can’t see himself ever voting for a Republican again.

Some of his friends who are deemed essential employees, like air traffic controllers and aviation safety inspectors, have it even worse, he said.

“They are required to work, cannot take any leave during a furlough, have no idea when they will be paid, and cannot file for unemployment,” Kewitt said.

As he waits for his exercise bike on Craigslist to sell so he can pay his bills, he’s more concerned for his friends. He’s still thinking of others instead of himself.