Black Monday coming for America’s unemployed
In just three days, an estimated 1.2 million unemployed Americans will awaken to find that their unemployment and COBRA health care benefits have vanished along with their long ago lost jobs.
The benefits had been coming to these people thanks to a provision in the stimulus bill that had extended the ordinary period of eligibility for unemployment and COBRA benefits to assist those who cannot find work in the most trying job market since The Great Depression. The extension is set to end on Sunday, February 28th.
While it had been considered a ‘given’ that the program would be extended, Senator Jim Bunning (R-Ken.), the Hall of Fame Major League baseball pitcher who has been forced into his coming retirement from the Senate due to what I’ll generously call ‘eccentricity issues’, apparently didn’t get the memo.
In fact, Bunning has placed a hold on the bill that would have extended the program – and he is refusing to budge.
Now, it’s too late.
After a late night session on Thursday, where Senate Democrats begged for a unanimous consent to extend the program for just 30 days, Bunning wasn’t playing ball.
According to Politico, after listening to Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) plead for Bunning to drop his objection, Bunning – from his back row seat – had a simple response spoken on the Senate floor. “Tough shit.”
Of course, it isn’t the first time we’ve heard obscenity on the Senate floor. Who can forget the moment when then Vice President Dick Cheney told Sen. Patrick Leahy to “f____ yourself’” during a Senate photo-op. But at least Cheney wasn’t flipping off a plea to provide benefits to unemployed Americans about to find themselves on the street.
What is Bunning’s objection?
He doesn’t want the unemployment benefits to be added to the U.S. deficit. He’ll agree to extending the benefits package, but only if it is paid for out of the stimulus funds.
Even Mitch McConnell isn’t standing behind Bunning on this one. Why would he? Like Bunning, McConnell hails from Kentucky, a state with a 10.7% employment rate.
However, McConnell’s opposition may prove to be the good news. While the Senate couldn’t get it done in time to stop the flow of badly needed benefits before they expire on Sunday, Harry Reid will file a cloture motion – yet again – to overcome the opposition and get the extension approved.
As for Bunning? He had more important things on his mind as the Senate session dragged on into the night. At one point during the proceedings, Bunning actually complained-
I have missed the Kentucky-South Carolina game that started at 9:00 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.
Via Huffington Post www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/02/26/jim-bunning-repeatedly-bl_n_477910.html
At least he has his priorities straight.
Who says the procedural process in the United States Senate, the alleged ‘world’s greatest deliberative body’ is out of whack?