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Sunday, February 28, 2010

It isn't even the tyranny of the minority anymore
Posted by Jill | 7:26 AM
The dysfunction of the Senate isn't even about the tyranny of the 42-seat Republican minority anymore. Now a single Republican Senator for whom ideology and the desire to topple Barack Obama trumps everything can send hundreds of thousands of the unemployed a step further down a road to ruin from which they may never be able to return:
Jim Bunning, a Republican from Kentucky, is single-handedly blocking Senate action needed to prevent an estimated 1.2 million American workers from prematurely losing their unemployment benefits next month.

As Democratic senators asked again and again for unanimous consent for a vote on a 30-day extension Thursday night, Bunning refused to go along.

And when Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) begged him to drop his objection, Politico reports, Bunning replied: "Tough shit."

Bunning says he doesn't oppose extending benefits -- he just doesn't want the money that's required added to the deficit. He proposes paying for the 30-day extension with stimulus funds. The Senate's GOP leadership did not support him in his objections.

And at one point during the debate, which dragged on till nearly midnight, Bunning complained of missing a basketball game.

"I have missed the Kentucky-South Carolina game that started at 9:00," he said,
"and it's the only redeeming chance we had to beat South Carolina since they're the only team that has beat Kentucky this year.

Poor Jim Bunning. He had to miss a college basketball game rather than debate whether hundreds of thousands of people who have lost their jobs can continue to pay their bills and put food on the table.

Funny how Jim Bunning didn't care about deficits when he introduced a bill authorizing George W. Bush to invade Iraq based on a bunch of trumped-up horseshit. He didn't care about deficits when voting for the Bush tax cuts. But when it comes to help for Americans who need it, he's on the wrong side every single time:
* 2005 -- Voted WITH the credit-card industry on the bankruptcy bill.

* 2005 -- Voted WITH oil companies by giving them more tax breaks.

* 2006 -- Voted FOR higher deficits by extending the Bush Tax Cuts.

* 2007 -- Voted AGAINST children by opposing S-CHIP.

* 2008 -- Voted AGAINST helping people facing foreclosure.

* 2009 -- Voted AGAINST women by opposing the Ledbetter Act.

* 2009 -- Voted AGAINST children again by opposing S-CHIP.

* 2010 -- Voted AGAINST reducing the debt by opposing the Debt Commission.

Kentucky, the state which for some bizarre reason sends this guy back to the Senate every six years, has the 4th lowest per capita income. Only Mississippi, West Virginia, and Arkansas are worse off. More than one in ten Kentucky workers is unemployed. And yet Jim Bunning opposes help for his own constituents (if you want to assume that the citizens of Kentucky are still his constituents, which is doubtful).

As the New York Times noted yesterday, Bunning didn't care about the impact of unemployment compensation on deficits while George W. Bush was in the White House. His "come to Jesus" moment on deficits seems to have miraculously coincided with the inauguration of a Democratic President:
Senator Bunning once cared about the unemployed. When the benefit was due to expire in November, he joined a unanimous vote to extend it until the end of February. “Kentucky has been hit hard by the current economic downturn,” he said at the time. It still is, but Mr. Bunning refused to consider the extension unless it was paid for with funds from the fiscal stimulus plan. For years, Mr. Bunning didn’t seem to have a problem with blowing up the deficit for the Iraq war and tax cuts. Now he’s a deficit hawk when it comes to average Americans.

This is the cancer that has infected the Republican Party. For them ideology trumps everything. If it takes destroying the country to regain power, they're perfectly willing to do so, even if what they end up presiding over is a hollowed-out, burnt-out shell of a nation. It's ALL about ideology. It's ALL about power.

I'd be tempted to say that if the citizens of Kentucky are stupid enough to bote for guys like Jim Bunning and Mitch McConnell, then they deserve to be put out of their homes and hungry. But I live in a district with a Congressman, Scott Garrett, who was an "Udeology Über Alles" adherent long before it was fashionable -- and this district keeps sending him back to Congress because they either still think Marge Roukema is their representative, they aren't paying attention and reading the truth behind his "I'm working for you" mailings sent every month at our expense, or they are registered Republicans and here in New Jersey, our ballots encourage party-line voting. This year it looks like the Democrats aren't even going to bother to field a candidate.

Once a government official becomes entrenched, he controls his own message, because voters simply do not pay attention to what their so-called representatives in Washington are actually doing. We can shrug our shoulders at the Kentuckyans who seem to think that electing someone who votes against their interests every time won't be relevant once they get invited into the Club of the Rich that Ronnie Reagan told them they could get into if they Just Work Hard Enough (never noting that most of those in the Club of the Rich got there through inherited money or by being nothing but middlemen), or at the New Jerseyans who still think they're voting for Marge Roukema even though it says "Scott Garrett" on the ballot -- except that their delusion affects us all.

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Blogger jurassicpork said...
I thought the Republicans had 41 seats in the Senate. Unless you're counting Lieberman.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Just remember that there are a lot of Kentuckians like me (the irony is that I grew up in Massachusetts) who have never voted for Bunning or McConnell, yet we are "represented" by them.

Anonymous mandt said...
That name, 'Bunning'----sounds like a colon problem doesn't it?