Bunning Blocks Benefits

Late last night, February 26, 2010 Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) highhandedly and successfully blocked a bill to further extend a number of federal subsidies including, among other things: expanded unemployment benefits; surface transportation programs; the compulsory copyright license used by satellite TV providers; the federal flood insurance program; and health insurance subsidies for the jobless.

Senator Bunning’s objection to the Democrats’ proposed legislation was that the Democrat’s had made no provision for paying for it and it would therefor just add to the already crushing weight of the federal deficit.

Everybody in this chamber wants to extend unemployment benefits, but if we can’t find $10 billion somewhere for a bill that everybody in this body supports we will never pay for anything.

Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY)

To be clear, Sen. Bunning had no stated objection to the bill in question other than the funding of it. He wanted some of the large amount of still unused Stimulus funds to be used to pay for the extension of the programs but his amendment to the bill to that effect was rejected by the Senate Democrats several times.

Sen. Bunning’s actions don’t surprise me. He’s a true fiscal Conservative who previously voted against both TARP and the Auto Bail Out, so this is consistent with his economic views.

So who really blocked this legislation and allowed these various programs to sunset tomorrow, the one Republican Senator who wanted the programs to be paid for or the numerous Democrat Senators who didn’t want to pay for them?

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10 Responses to “Bunning Blocks Benefits”

  1. zhann Says:

    I am curious, but if unemployment benefits are revoked, and a crisis further grips the USA, which seems very likely, who will you blame? Obama? … or Bunning?

    We are already in such shit, $10 billion is such a trivial amount.

  2. jonolan Says:

    OK, we’re hurting right now; that’s true enough. But, as you said, $10 billion is such a trivial amount. Why wouldn’t the Dems, once they knew Bunning was serious, cough up the funding from the Stimulus or elsewhere?

    As for blame – there’s a lot of that to go around since the seeds of this specific disaster were rooted in Carter’s decision to bail out Chrysler the 1st time and his signing of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), and have been helped along by the actions of every POTUS and every Congress in one way or another since then.

  3. Ryan Mason Says:

    Bunning voted for the Medicare Prescription Plan. Hardly fiscal conservative unless your definition of fiscal conservative is simply when Republicans spend money.

    And now you’re blaming Carter for our recession? Wow. That’s a nice 30 year reach right there. I guess I should blame Eisenhower for the war we’re in, too, while we’re at it.

    Bunning isn’t being fiscally responsible with his action; he’s just being a baby. He’s holding up democracy by not even allowing a vote simply because he knows he will be on the losing end of it.

  4. jonolan Says:


    Bunning did vote for the GOP version of the Medicare Prescription Plan. That was a compromise solution since he voted against the original plan to establish a prescription drug benefit program through the Medicare health insurance program. Among other provisions, Medicare would have under that bill contributed at least 50% of the cost of prescription drugs.

    The GOP version of the Medicare Prescription Plan, which I believe became the law, also had an existing funding source, unlike the current subsidy extension bill.

    “And now you’re blaming Carter for our recession? Wow. That’s a nice 30 year reach right there. I guess I should blame Eisenhower for the war we’re in, too, while we’re at it. “

    Did Carter bail-out Chrysler or not? Did he sign the CRA into law or not? Both are root causes of our particular crisis. But, if you re-read my comment, you’ll see I also blamed every POTUS since him as well, since they and their Congresses all took actions that moved us down the road to today’s problem. Carter was just the first major act in a sequence of foolishness.

    But who’s holding up democracy? Why didn’t the Dems just fund the bill? And, perhaps more importantly, why do you Liberals never ask that question?

  5. Ryan Mason Says:

    I still think it’s laughable to call someone fiscal conservative when he votes for an unfunded, $118 Billion dollar entitlement just because he voted along party lines against a Democratic spending bill. If he reasons for voting against the Stimulus and TARP were because they were fiscally irresponsible, then he should’ve voted against the Medicare Part D Prescription Plan, too.

    I never said that Carter didn’t bail out Chrysler. And I recognize that you include both Republican and Democratic politicians who continued the practice. The issue is that the bailout isn’t the root cause. You’re ignoring history. The bailout didn’t cause our recession; the bailout was enacted BECAUSE OF the recession and the current economic crisis. If you’ll notice, the banks failed, the housing market burst, and stocks fell prior to TARP and the stimulus act. This means that it could not have been the cause of our recession. If you want to argue that it hasn’t help anything, fine. But you’re not saying that. The root cause of our crisis was deregulation and outrageous spending with no intentions of paying for it: two unending wars and the huge entitlement of Medicare Part D while also cutting taxes.

    Bunning is holding up democracy. Whether or not he’s right about it being bad form to not pay for a bill, he’s still holding up democracy. If he had let the decision come to a vote, he could’ve let democracy actually happen, and then if things go sour, he can wash his hands of it and say that he voted against it and reap the benefits come election day. Instead he completely blocked the vote. That’s holding up democracy, plain and simple.

    The issue for me is that Bunning tries to come across as some level-headed person who cares about the people but just won’t spend any more money we don’t have. I mean, come on. What a great time to be self righteous, when millions of jobless people will lose their benefits. It’s not like Bunning hasn’t voted for bills without funding before. He has. He’s even voted for unemployment insurance without funding before. So why now? Simply to be an obstructionist. That’s it. It’s not about sticking to his values and his ideology. It’s to be a baby.

    And if the Dems had included a tax in the bill to pay for it, you think Bunning would’ve voted in favor? Yeah right. Or if it had taken money from the stimulus plan to pay for it? The same stimulus plan that Bunning voted against and disagreed with? How would that have made him happy? He’d still oppose the bill, just for different reasons. They’re just excuses to obstruct.

  6. jonolan Says:

    You have your opinion of Bunning and of all the GOP, Mason. I recognize that that opinion is ideological and not amenable to change, so I’ll leave it be rather than waste my time and effort in a doomed pursuit of reason.

    I’ll make one last, probably useless, effort on the topic of the causes of our current economic crisis however.

    Firstly – I never said that TARP and the recent Auto Bail-outs / Nationalizations were the cause of this crisis. They were respectively a reaction to it and an opportunistic capitalization of them. They will also likely be part of the cause of our next repeat of this fiasco.

    Secondly – I rarely ignore history, though you seem to when it diverges from the pro-Lib, pro-Statist agenda.

    The ’80s bail-out of Chrysler by Carter provided the precedent of “too big to fail.” The market doesn’t work when companies or individuals know that there are no or limited consequences for bad or foolish behavior.

    Carter’s signing of the CRA created the entire sub-prime mortgage system. It was certainly well intentioned, but it didn’t take into account either the need of banks to offset their risks via the securities exchanges or the greed of people when faced with a “bubble.”

    I could and do say similar things about some of the deregulation that happened under both Reagan and Clinton. Nobody seemed to look at how people would misuse the system, preferring to bask in an refreshed and growing GDP that wasn’t based upon real wealth.

    Thirdly – Government spending over the years had little directly to do with our problem, either in causing it or in preventing it. At most it has fostered the general “live on credit” attitude of the People.

    Understand please, Mason, that I’m discussing this particular crisis, not the underlying fact that some form of crisis at this level was going to happen at some point fairly soon.

    The blame for that is squarely on the shoulders of the bulk of we, the People, who chose to live beyond their means and have the trappings of a “lifestyle” that they weren’t entitled to by their own labors, and who mistook money for wealth.

  7. ichabod Says:

    Hi jonolan;

    With formerly private owned corporations such as AIG, GM and Chrysler draining the countries resources, never mind Fannie, Freddie and the banks, I knew it would come to this.

    Illinois is on the brink of fiscal disaster and it is not the only state. Mark my words my friend, I see 1931 and the subsequent years revisiting us.

  8. zhann Says:

    I don’t think Bunning’s votes, or the majority of Republican votes since Obama’s term began, have much to do with ideology but more so to do with the fact that they want, or rather need, to see Obama fail. If Obama succeeds, the Republican’s will have an extremely hard time in the next round of elections. There only chance of survival hinges on Obama’s failure during his first term.

    Case and point (generalizing a bit) … as Democrats propose bills, irregardless of what is in them, the majority are being Fillibustered by the Republicans knowing full well that they can’t win the vote. Hence, the Senate is all but stalled currently, moving a fraction of the bills across the floor that should be during normal business hours. One liberal source (don’t remember which) mentioned that around 45 bills have been passed in Obama’s term, a number that should be at least double, and has been more than tripled during record sessions of of the senate in the same time period.

    While my political knowledge is rather lacking with respect to yours (Jonolan, Mason, and others), there are some things that don’t require a keen political sense to understand. The Republicans don’t really care too much about the people at this point, and why should they? Their goal is to force Obama’s failure, and they are doing a great job of expediting the process. Of course, Obama is shooting himself in the foot as well, but this specific bill should have passed … the only reason Republicans wanted it to fail, and spun it in a way to convince their contingency that it should fail, is so that when the unemployed loose their benefits they blame Obama and not the Republicans that caused their loss.

  9. Jingle Says:

    wonderful topic.
    Happy March!

  10. Alfie Says:

    Come on folks why is it so hard to accept something like this vote as a line in the sand. Sure it affects a lot of people negatively but the reasoning is sound. If the Dems,the party of PAYGO fame won’t pay out 10B WTF??
    I find it laughable that those that call out the GOP for playing politics are so two faced. Where are the Dems not playing politics? Dishonesty is unbecoming otherwise quality dialog.

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