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Anxiety among unemployed concerning fiscal cliff negotiations

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MILWAUKEE -- While the nation teeters on the edge of the so-called fiscal cliff, tens of thousands of Wisconsinites are already feeling the pinch of the Congressional gridlock. Any cuts and tax increases wouldn't officially kick in until the New Year, but the possibility of going over the edge forced many of those unemployed to make drastic changes.

Talks were tense in Washington, D.C. as Democrats and Republicans worked to reach a deal to avert the fiscal cliff. 

Meanwhile, in Milwaukee, the ongoing negotiations are already having an impact. Last Friday, December 28th was the last time nearly 40,000 Wisconsinites got an unemployment check. Unemployment is wrapped up in fiscal cliff discussions, and federal benefits for those unemployed no longer than 26 weeks have ended. It's forced thousands to plan for the worst.

"Anybody who's in the position where they're unemployed is really going through a whole period of anxiety. Not sure where their next paycheck is going to come from, what they're going to do, how they're going to be able to get through," Leo Weber with the Goodwill Workforce Connections Center said.

For many, the unemployment check is their only income, so all they can do aside from trying to find employment is to wait to see what Congress decides.

"We emphasize to Congress and that members of both parties understand that all across America this is a pressing concern on people's minds," President Barack Obama said in an address on New Year's Eve.

Though President Obama used the bully pulpit to keep pressure on deal-makers, he did appear to have a cautious optimism that something would be passed before the midnight deadline.

"One thing we can count on with respect to this Congress is that if there's even one second left before you have to do what you're supposed to do, they will use that last second," President Obama said.

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