Bailouts Are For Banks: Unemployed People Get Zilch - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Bailouts Are For Banks: Unemployed People Get Zilch

HUFFINGTONPOST.COM - In Washington, the agenda has long since moved on from the bailing out of megabanks to figuring out how to stop paying for things that regular people need -- luxuries like health care, retirement benefits and unemployment insurance.

In the suburbs of Denver, Anthony Roebuck and his family find themselves confronting an action list that seems cruelly divorced from the proceedings in the nation's capital: They have to figure out how to keep the heat on through the Colorado winter now that his unemployment check has run out.

The latest extension of emergency unemployment benefits expired on Tuesday, as a dysfunctional Congress let the deadline go without striking a deal to keep the money flowing. That put Roebuck -- who drew his last check on Monday -- among the two million or so unemployed Americans facing the imminent loss of their benefits between now and the end of the year.

A sheet metal worker by trade, Roebuck, 44, is accustomed to earning his own way through the force of his hands. Since May, he and his family have subsisted on his wife's paycheck from her job as a university administrator, plus a nearly $500 weekly unemployment check.

They slashed away at their grocery bill, cutting out non-essentials such as the fried snacks favored by his 15-year-old son. They traded in their late-model Jeep Cherokee for an elderly Dodge sedan. They quit going to church on Sunday to save the gas money required to get there.

Now, the math is set to get uglier still, as they contemplate how to run the household minus his unemployment check -- a situation that seems not only impossible but also unfair.

How could there have been so many billions for Wall Street, so much room to lower taxes for people with golf memberships and country houses, yet a $500-a-week check to help him pay the rent while he looks for another job suddenly threatens to bankrupt the nation?

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