From The Washington Post:
For five days, retiring Sen. Jim Bunning held his fellow Republicans hostage. He stood his ground, angry and alone, a one-man blockade against unemployment benefits, Medicare payments to doctors, satellite TV to rural Americans and paychecks to highway workers.
“Enough,” the Kentucky Republican thundered repeatedly, his face red, as he stood in the way of Washington spending more money he said it didn’t have on an extension of popular programs. Finally, as supporters and critics yelled at each other outside his Lexington office, he capitulated from the well of the Senate on Tuesday night.
Relentless attacks from Democrats and withering support from Republicans, worried that the Hall of Fame pitcher was turning the party’s message of principled objection to raging obstructionism, ended Bunning’s stand.
Yeah, Bunning balked, but not before some of his fellow Rethuglicans used the episode to make fools of themselves.
BUNNING GETS BY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM HIS FRIENDS…. Sen. Jim Bunning’s (R-Ky.) temper tantrum has caused quite a mess from coast to coast. Tens of thousands of unemployed workers are getting screwed, as are thousands of furloughed highway workers, small businesses, and medical professionals. Bunning’s rationale isn’t even coherent, but his callous crusade continues.
It’s been interesting, though, to see Bunning’s Republican colleagues respond to the tantrum. The underlying measure was poised to be approved unanimously — that is, without GOP objection — but notice that Senate Republicans haven’t made any real efforts to cut Bunning’s lunacy short. Granted, the GOP leadership may have limited influence over the Kentucky senator — the borderline-unstable member is retiring later this year — but that doesn’t explain the support Republicans are offering.
Corker Defended Bunning, Said Senate Was “Stooping To A Low Level.” On the Senate floor, Senator [Bob] Corker defended Senator Bunning and said, “I believe we are stooping to a low level. [...] Everybody in the country now knows that the Senator from Kentucky has a hold on this bill. That is something that is honored. Not a hold on the bill, but he is objecting to unanimous consent, and that is something that we honor in this body.” [Congressional Record, 2/25/10]
Sessions Defended Bunning, Said He’s Blocking Unemployment Benefits “As A Matter Of Principle.” On the Senate floor, Senator [Jeff] Sessions defending Senator Bunning and said, “I think the Senator from Kentucky is speaking on behalf of the conscience of a lot of Americans, a majority of Americans, if they heard this debate. He is doing it as a matter of principle. I know he has no desire to see people not receive unemployment compensation. He is willing to support that. He simply is saying that enough is enough.” [Congressional Record, 2/25/10]
Sessions Again Defended Bunning, Said He Respects Bunning’s “Courage.” [...] Sessions spoke about Bunning’s actions on the Senate floor and said, “I respect him for the courage he showed. [Congressional Record, 3/1/10]
[John] Cornyn Admires Bunning’s “Courage.” [...] “I understand that Senator Durbin retained the floor for the most part and yielded for questions, but basically the procedure denied Senator Bunning and Senator Corker, who I know also weighed in, an opportunity to explain precisely what was going on…. I want to say I admire the courage of the junior Senator from Kentucky, Mr. Bunning.” [Congressional Record, 2/26/10]
[Jon] Kyl Defended Bunning, Said He “Made A Good Point.” [...] You can’t say that everything we do around here needs to be offset,’ said Kyl, ‘and then waive the pay go legislation every time you want to do it.’ ‘My colleague from Kentucky made a good point.’” [Politico, 3/1/10]
“Bunning’s blockade” is wreaking havoc, and leading Republicans aren’t denouncing him — they’re encouraging him.
This is the modern Republican Party? In an election year?
For his part, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R), Bunning’s fellow Kentuckian, was asked repeatedly this morning whether Bunning’s tantrum was defensible. McConnell refused to answer.
But that wasn’t quite enough for Senator Jon My-Weewee-Is-As-Short-As-My-Name Kyl. From PHOENIX Business Journal:
During a Senate debate over an extension of unemployment insurance benefits, Kyl said unemployment insurance “doesn’t create new jobs. In fact, if anything, continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work.”
When questioned by Democratic senators, he stood by his remarks, but said he wasn’t implying that jobless individuals are not seeking work.
The Senate is considering the latest in a series of unemployment benefits extensions. The Obama administration said Monday that without them, 400,000 Americans (including 8,300 Arizonans) will lose those benefits this month.
Unemployment insurance in Arizona offers jobless works a maximum of $206 a week, one of the lowest levels in the U.S. That translates into $5.15 per hour, or $10,712 a year — just below the 2009 federal poverty level of $10,830 for a single-person household.
Kyl’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Yeah, damn those people living the life of luxury on unemployment. They don’t have to suffer like Jim Beanball Bunning! While he was hard at work, obstructing the Senate (where he gets paid $174,000 a year plus expenses, a pension, and health care for the rest of his life), he missed a basketball game ! The unemployed can sit around watching basketball all damned day. That is, until they can’t pay their electric bill, and the power gets turned off.
Tip of the hat to the handsome and talented Zirgar for sparking the idea for tonight’s movie selection.