Jobless man speaks out for extended benefits


Robert Simpson, 35, worked as a mechanic for Duralite Truck Body & Container Co. for 14 years before the company went bankrupt after 42 years in business. The small firm manufactured truck bodies.

He was unemployed for two years before finding a job as a shipping and receiving clerk. He was laid off from that job in March.

He received his last unemployment check last Thursday for $211 a week. At Duralite, he made about $400 a week, he said.

"Our president says there is no emergency in this country but he has to be a fool to say that," said Simpson, who is married and has three children ages 8, 11 and 13. "All he has to do is ask the thousands of people that are out of work."

Simpson criticized President Bush for claiming there is no money to fund extended benefits because of the deficit.

"He can send aid overseas like to Russia, which I'm not against, but there are people here that need to be fed and taken care of," he said.

Simpson may face losing his southwest Baltimore home because he can't meet the mortgage payment. He's already sought state aid and received a loan to make some back payments but said he is running out of options.

"It's not like I don't want to work," he said. "I've worked all my life."

Simpson testified before Congress this month in support of the extending unemployment benefits.

"Extending the benefits will certainly provide a temporary relief, but certainly it is not the answer to the economic problems in this country," he said.

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