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Feb. 26 2010 - 2:47 pm | 372 views | 5 recommendations | 10 comments

Black Monday coming for America’s unemployed

100225_bunning_ap_218In 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?


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  1. collapse expand

    I think all Americans can agree that Senator Bunning is a giant, flaming douchebag.

  2. collapse expand

    Keep telling on em, first I heard of this, maybe they get that gall because they think no-one is watching.

  3. collapse expand

    I thought I’d respond on your page. Thanks for looking at mine. Like we’ve both said, it comes down to making those value judgments. They’ve been doing it in the UK with a national health care system for over 60 years.

    I will likely add more articles on the health care issue, I imagine it will drag on for a very long time. Even with the Dems using ‘reconciliation’ to get something passed in the Senate, nothing they’ve come up with is going to affect the price side of things. The truth is, it just ain’t as complicated as people think. And I can only repeat myself so many times before I’m sick of reading it over and over again.

    I just thought of a good analogy. There is a monstrous industry that has profited off of Americans inane stupidity when it comes to losing fat. Everyone thinks that it is so complicated, and most are gullible to each new commercial or book that spins a rational as to how to lose those persistent pounds. It’s when you eat, how you eat, what you eat, or some other method but the most obvious and simplest. When it is simply calories in minus calories burned gives calories remaining. It’s like a bucket with a small hole in the bottom; if you pour water in the bucket at a faster rate than it goes out the hole, then the volume of water in the bucket is going to increase. If you reduce the rate of water you are pouring in or increase the hole so the rate of loss is faster, then the volume of water will decrease.

    Prices will not stop rising until a value judgment is made, by someone. What both of us see, that everyone else does not see, is that it’s about the health care industry, not the insurance industry. Congress can manipulate the insurance pieces on the playing board all they want, ain’t gonna matter a bit.

    I suppose you read my review of the Republican ideas published in the NY Times, it is my most recent. If you haven’t read it or the Op-Ed piece it covers in the Times, it’s worthwhile to see that there isn’t just one mindset on the Republican side.

    An earlier one called “The Health Care Market: There Isn’t One” is kind of the basics, just trying to say, ‘wake up people.’
    And the name is Robert.

  4. collapse expand

    I figured, at the risk of getting scolded, I’d repeat here a reply which I made to the Huffington Post story on the same subject as your post, Rick. The HP has a 250 word limit for replies, thus I usually find myself having to cull out 100 precious words from my initial ‘rant’. It is still largely coherent, though. —–>

    Here’s when the liberals scoff and ignore me, yet largely, conservatives think me a bleeding heart liberal.

    Bunning is trying to be fiscally responsible while also extending the unemployment benefits. The Huff Post’s teaser for this article,”‘Tough s**t’ for the unemployed” an implied quote by Sen. Bunning, is as underhanded as any Fox News or Washington Times header I’ve ever seen.

    Mr. Bunning, is no more objectionable in his solitary stand than was Mr. Smith, (Jimmy Stewart), the neopyte Senator and hero of ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington’.

    He simply asks that the funds for the next extension be culled from the $787 BILLION that was appropriated ‘as’ a stimulus measure and theoretical ‘jobs’ bill, but has been a windfall for public and private industry sectors who have ailed the least.

    Among the pork, vast sums for local school districts to supposedly augment tax revenue losses. In fact, school board budgets bloated 25-30% over a 3-4 year period from a property tax windfall (you think they invested it?).

    The Atlanta Public Schools budget went from $506 million in 2005 to $662 million in 2009 (31% jump), while enrollment dropped, 51,000 to 48,000. Your astute pols have screamed ‘fire’ to award them $56 million, in return they reported their entire faculty as jobs created.

    If folks would do more thinking and looking at the details, you’d know that the devil is in the details; it’s how he gets things done.


    • collapse expand

      No scolding – and I do understand what Bunning is trying to do. My problem is with the way he is doing it.

      It isn’t as simple as saying take the money from the stimulus. For starters, the stimulus bill defines how the money can be spent and unemployment benefits and COBRA extensions would not qualify.

      I suppose they could amend the stimulus to allow for this, but there would be any number of problems. For starters, this type of spending is not stimulus. While I understand that you would argue that much of the stimulus bill is not stimulus, it does beg the point.

      Further, the time it would take to make such an amendment, even if it were possible, would leave a lot of people exposed for a long time. it would also open the Democrats up to charges that they are using money they say is for stimulus – for welfare. Thus, it is really a trap.

      I don’t begrudge Bunning for making his point. I do begrudge him doing so at the expense of 1.2 million Americans who need the help. If he agreed to the 30 day extension with a warning that unless Congress finds a way to pay for the extended benefits without increasing the deficit, I could understand that.

      But what he did was shine a light on himself and use all these people to make a point – and he did it knowing that there will be a successful cloiture vote early next week to overcome his hold. His behavior is not what what I expect of a senator.

      By the way, Jimmy Stewart stood in the well of the Senate for hours upon hours in his efforts. Were Bunning to do the same, and not the day before the benefits expired, I’d be with him all the way. He could make his point courageously and do so without putting all these poor folks in fear. Instead, he sat un his butt in the back of the room and complained that having to be present to do his job at a session that he was responsible for, caused him to miss a basketball game. I don’t believe that this is okay with you.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      BTW – what is the link to your NYT op-ed piece?

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        I won’t argue on the Bunning thing, but will mention an FYI, the $787 billion ’stimulus’ bill is the legislation that contained the directive/appropriation which funded this current round of extended unemployment benefits, the one expiring on Sunday.
        (Ooops, I can’t help myself) Even so, perhaps half of the appropriations/expenses for projects and such have yet to be wasted/spent. Good sense would have redirected it.
        Dems will politically grand stand and say they want to reinstate the ‘pay as you go’ rule, but apparently they only want to implement it on the Republicans to prevent their tax cuts.
        They knew the expiration was arriving, they should have either raised taxes to pay for it or redirected previously appropriated money.
        Any way . . .
        The link for my review on that Op-Ed –> http://therleepost.blogspot.com/2010/02/health-care-fight-dont-throw-in-gauze.html
        You’ll see I don’t hide my ire for Republicans either, although I was a bit surprised by some of what I read.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
  5. collapse expand

    I was joking with a couple of my friends about Bunning’s role in the unemployment fiasco, and somehow the killer whale at seaworld got brought into it. And one of us said we need some killer whale welfare to relocate them to the wild, and I said that maybe Jim Bunning would block it and say, “Tough ****, whales.”

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    About Me

    I am an attorney in Southern California, and a frequent writer, speaker and consultant on health care policy and politics. To that end, I am active member of the Association of Health Care Journalists. Based in beautiful Santa Monica, California, I'm very pleased to have the opportunity to be a contributing editor to True/Slant. I've recently finished a book designed to make the health care debate understandable to the average reader, and expect it to be out in the next five months or earlier. In my 'spare time', I continue to write for television and, occasionally, for comic books.

    My checkered past includes stints in creative writing and production for television where I did strange things like founding the long running show "Access Hollywood" and serving, for many years, as the president of the Marvel Character Group where I had the distinct pleasure of being one of Spider-man's bosses.

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