He pays $1,900 monthly rent for a small apartment in suburban Maryland; $950 in mortgage and utilities a month on the house he can't sell in North Carolina; $1,000 in monthly child support payments; $250 for his and his daughter's car insurance; $300 a month for an extra insurance policy for his kids; $250 for their cell phones; and a luxury, the more than $500 note on his black 2008 BMW. And, like millions of Americans, Maryak is living under a mountain of credit card debt—he estimates that just to meet the minimum monthly payments, he's shelling out more than $600 a month. [...]Deployment looks like the answer to him—if he can find a deployment when the U.S. has so scaled back its wars.
Then sequestration slashed Maryak's paycheck by nearly 27%. That cut nearly $900 from the $3,400 he makes a pay period. He responded, first, by picking up a job four nights a week delivering pizza for Papa John's; he then traded in the BMW for a white Chevy Impala, to save money and because he discovered that nobody tips the delivery man in the BMW. And since that miserable combination hasn't quite closed the gap—gas is expensive, and the Impala gets terrible mileage—Maryak, who was awarded a bronze star in Sadr City in 2008, found himself dwelling deeply on one question: "How do I unfuck myself from this situation?"
Maryak, who Stanton describes as an "anti-spending conservative," appears to be kind of a work hard, spend hard, then work hard some more to pay the bills kind of guy. But that plan breaks down when you're hit with a 27 percent pay cut all of a sudden. Even if you don't have the house that won't sell on top of your rent, like Maryak. So while the national political press—Stanton included—appears to have concluded that the sequester isn't really that big a deal, when you look at a story like this and then realize that some version of it is replicated thousands of times, it's hard to see how people say sequestration is no big deal and easy to see how its effects are going to keep building and spreading.