The Courage of Senator Bunning

by | Mar 4, 2010 | Congress, Politics

This week, Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky took a couragous stand in the Senate .  For four days, he blocked the passage of a bill that contributed an additional $10 billion to our national debt due to  Congress not providing a way to pay for the bill before enacting it. For his actions blocking the extension of unemployment insurance costing taxpayers another $10 billion in debt, Senator Bunning has been excoriated in the main stream press.  In reality, he deserves praise for standing up for the future of our grandchildren.

The basis for his objection was a law recently passed by the Democrat controlled Congress and signed by President Obama called “Pay-Go”.  This legislation calls on Congress to pay for spending bills without adding to our national debt.  This $10 billion extension of unemployment flies in the face of that Pay-Go law. 

While watching CNN rip Bunning apart on Tuesday, the question I found they repeated over and over was, “Why now?”  The anchor and reporter both alleged that his actions were immediately causing Americans to suffer and simply a partisan ploy by an abrasive old man who is not respected by his party.  For some reason it never occurred to the anchor that Bunning might be listening to the majority of the American people who are calling for a reduction in out of control federal spending.  Bunning admits he has cast some bad votes in his thousands of votes over the years, but  the idea of Congress treating American’s tax dollars as an endless slush fund  for their personal benefit must end.

While most Americans do approve of extending unemployment benefits, they want Congress and the President to have a way to pay for those benefits without encumbering our future generations with more debt.  I must mention in this discussion that there exist respected economic studies showing that extending unemployment benefits actually causes a person to remain unemployed longer, especially when extending benefits to an unprecedented 99 weeks as they do with this bill.
In spite of what the media reported, Bunning did not simply object to the passage of the bill, but he also submitted an amendment offering a way to pass the extension of unemployment benefits while paying for it out of the unspent money left over from the Stimulus Bill.   The Democrat majority  on Tuesday agreed to allow a vote on Bunning’s amendment to fund the bill, but in the end used a procedural maneuver to avoid the vote on his offered amendment.  The Senate was not permitted to debate or vote on a bill that provided funding for the extension of benefits.  Only an up or down vote on passing unfunded benefits that would add $10 billion to the national debt.

In the end, the Democrat controlled Senate, which had passed “Pay-Go” just a few weeks ago, passed the Temporary Extension Act of 2010 without providing a way to pay for the benefits granted in the bill. 

What Bunning did, took great political courage.  He stood up for the majority of Americans who want runaway federal spending stopped.  His actions revealed the hypocrisy of the majority – they claim to utilize fiscal discipline with laws such as “Pay-Go”, but actually are only paying lip service to the principles of fiscal responsibility.  Senator Bunning’s words say it best,

 “If the Senate cannot find $10 billion to pay for a measure we all support, we will never pay for anything.”

Their actions should be a wake up call to all of us.  If we want our elected officials to be fiscally responsible, we must require them to be fiscally responsible.  Call them, visit their offices, campaign against them, and then vote them out of office in November if they continue on this path. 
“When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.”

   -Thomas Jefferson