Jim Bunning’s Not-So-Lonely Crusade
posted at 4:50 pm on March 2, 2010 by Dafydd ab Hugh
The sneers and smears of Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY, 88%) proceed apace. He stands accused of being “cantankerous,” “ornery,” mentally unbalanced, “toxic,” the “crazy uncle in the Senate attic,” cringe-inducing, racist, sexist, “cruel,” “heartless,” a batter beaner (when he was a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies in the 1960s), and a serial cusser-outer of reporters — and that’s just from one AP piece!
Because of his ornery nature and ungovernable mouth, Bunning has come to be regarded as the crazy uncle in the Senate attic during his 11 years in Washington. And because he is retiring after this session, there isn’t much anyone can do to keep him in line.
Why the angst? Here it is in a nuthouse:
Republican Sen. Jim Bunning, a 78-year-old Hall of Fame pitcher, is playing hardball on Capitol Hill, single-handedly holding up a $10 billion spending bill because it would add to the deficit.
The move has forced some 2,000 federal employees into unpaid furloughs [who will that inconvenience? -- DaH], put jobless benefits in jeopardy for millions and halted more than 40 highway projects.
His objection also put the kibosh (until he is eventually overridden by a Senate vote, probably today or tomorrow) on federal flood insurance. Glub glub.
The mighty CBS has also deigned to notice:
Democrats were stunned when Republican Sen. Jim Bunning singlehandedly blocked a bill that would have extended unemployment benefits for thousands, but now they’re turning Bunning’s move into a political talking point.
Democrats have pinned the blame for the Senate’s lack of action in the past year on the GOP’s obstructionist agenda. Bunning’s move seems to prove their point.
Why is Bunning doing this? It’s unfathomable… unless one actually takes the onerous stop of actually asking the man. It appears his objection is based upon one seemingly simple question about the bill he is obstructing: How do we pay for this spending?
NPR sniffs at the preposterousness of such an objection. Whoever heard of holding up a spending bill merely because there is no money to pay for it?
Saying that he has blocked votes on the legislation to underscore his opposition to the ongoing growth in federal debt, Bunning read a letter from “Robert in Louisville,” who told the senator that even though he hasn’t been working regularly in the past two years he supports what Bunning is doing.
“This country is sooner or later going to implode because of the massive amount of debt run up over the past 40 or 50 years,” Robert wrote, according to Bunning.
Well, if the old coot is so concerned about actually “paying” for spending, ha ha, why doesn’t he suggest how to do it himself? Oh, wait; according to NPR again:
Update at 2:45 p.m. ET. The Associated Press, in its latest story on what’s happening, adds this perspective about Bunning’s position:
“Bunning said again Tuesday that he opposed the extension because it would add $10 billion to the budget deficit, and he attacked Democrats for abandoning promises to pay for legislation instead of contributing to a budget deficits projected to hit almost $1.6 trillion this year. Bunning proposes to pay for the extension with unspent money from last year’s massive economic recovery package, but (Senate Majority Leader Harry) Reid, D-Nev., objected.” (Correction: We had a typo earlier, identifying Reid as R-Nev.)
So let me understand: It’s not that there is no source available to pay for the spending; it’s merely that the Democrats don’t want to pay for it. They just want to spend it!
There is one thing worse than living off your credit card and not paying the bills: living off your credit card and not paying the bills — when you have tons of unspent money in the bank.
(I’m also strangely moved that AP thinks Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Caesar’s Palace, 70%, is actually a Republican.)
Democrats may be offended by Bunning’s question — who pays? — but I say it deserves an answer. I further suggest that it’s not Jim Bunning bringing disrepute upon the Senate chamber; that distinction rightly belongs to the Democrat spending machine… and also to those cowardly-elephant Republicans pushing Bunning to drop his objection and just shut his pie hole. I’m thinking here of Minority “Leader” Mitch McConnell (R-KY, 80%) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME, 20%).
It’s particularly galling when powerful Republicans deliberately and with malice aforethought undercut the Tea Partiers’ powerful message of fiscal responsibility and spending restraint, just because an old man on the brink of retirement is foolish enough to take GOP talking points seriously.
To paraphrase the revolting mob of slaves in Sartacus, “I am Jim Bunning.” (Well, except younger, darker haired, and better looking. And not quite so cantankerous.)
Cross-posted on Big Lizards…
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