Here is a bullet point version of the evolving mess created in the U.S. Senate, courtesy of Kentucky’s nomination for Hall of Political Shame: Sen. Jim Bunning.
Let’s start with a mini profile of the Senator himself:
- A former Major League pitcher – Bunning pitched in the Major Leagues for 17 seasons, most notably with the Detroit Tigers and the Philadelphia Phillies. When he retired, he had the second-highest total of career strikeouts in Major League history;
- In 2004, he barely won election in Kentucky in a campaign highlighted by blunders such as describing opponent Daniel Mongiardo as looking “like one of Saddam Hussein’s sons” and being “limp-wristed.”
- In 2006, TIME called him one of America’s five worst senators, calling out the former MLB pitcher for showing “little interest in policy unless it involves baseball.”
Now a mini profile of the problem, courtesy of The Economist:
- Last July Jim Bunning, realized he was too wildly unpopular in the state of Kentucky to win re-election to the Senate, so he decided to retire.
- On his way out, he figured he’d make sure people had something to remember him by. Last Friday, Mr Bunning extended a one-man procedural gambit that has blocked approval of an emergency extension of unemployment benefits, making it nearly certain that Americans who are out of work will stop receiving their payments on Sunday.
- Mr Bunning insists that funding measures (presumably, given his political leanings, spending cuts) be found to pay for the unemployment benefits. He is not being supported by the Republican leadership.
Now let’s proceed to read what the newspapers around the country have to say about Mr. Bunning’s theatrics and the ripple effects of his actions:
McClatchy: The Department of Transportation furloughed nearly 2,000 employees without pay Monday as the government began to feel the impact of Republican Sen. Jim Bunning’s one-man blockage of legislation that would keep a host of federal programs operating. Bunning’s “hold” also affects jobless benefits for thousands of unemployed workers, rural television customers, doctors receiving Medicare payments and others. Bunning wants the $10 billion price of extending the programs offset by reductions in spending elsewhere in the budget to not drive up the deficit.
From Washington Post: “I am keenly disappointed that political games are putting a stop to important construction projects around the country,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement late Sunday night. “This means that construction workers will be sent home from job sites because federal inspectors must be furloughed.”
Another Washington Post article: He doesn’t seem too happy about the extra attention. When ABC News tried to get him to comment on the block, he ignored them, yelling, “Excuse me! This is a senators-only elevator!” and “I’ve got to go to the floor!” According to the network producer Z. Byron Wolf, before the camera crew started filming Bunning gave them the middle finger.
A NY Times blog says: “As the fight drew to a close, Mr. Bunning complained he had been ambushed by the Democrats and was forced to miss the Kentucky-South Carolina basketball game. He said Democrats caused their own problems by dropping the program extensions from an earlier bipartisan jobs measure.”
British Newspaper The Telegraph Says: Is this America’s worst politician?…. It takes quite some doing to be rude, angry, non-communicative and elitist all in a mere 26 seconds. But Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky, who is not seeking re-election and has been all but abandoned by his Republican colleagues, manages it in this vintage clip from ABC News.
The Wall Street Journal Says: Many Republican leaders, cognizant of the political peril surrounding Mr. Bunning’s action, quietly distanced themselves. But others, including Arizona’s Jon Kyl, the Senate’s second-ranking Republican, supported Mr. Bunning’s right to raise the cost issue. “Every time we pass one of these bills, we are adding to the deficit, and we are not creating jobs,” Mr. Kyl said. “And it’s a legitimate point for Republicans to make.”
Click here to read all the related stories about this obscure Senator from Kentucky here.
- Shutting Down the Government (mydd.com)
- Senate Impasse Puts Federal Employees out of Work (abcnews.go.com)
- 2,000 transportation workers idled over impasse (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Transportation May Furlough 2000 Over Bunning’s ‘Hold’ (dailykos.com)
- Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning Reacts Angrily When Asked Why He’s Blocking The Jobs Bill (alan.com)
- Senate impasse puts federal employees out of work (msnbc.msn.com)
- Tick Tock: Medicare Payment Cuts for Docs Due to Start Monday (blogs.wsj.com)
- Senate impasse puts federal employees out of work (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Today is ‘Thank Jim Bunning Day’ (washingtonmonthly.com)
- Jim Bunning Impasse Puts Federal Employess Out Of Work (huffingtonpost.com)
- Bunning Has Successfully Blocked Extension of Unemployment Benefits, COBRA Funding, and Highway Money (themoderatevoice.com)
- Bill Scher: Sen. Jim Bunning Literally Gives The Finger To America. Here’s How We Can Fight Back. (huffingtonpost.com)
- Sen. Jim Bunning Offers Middle Finger to Reporter (cbsnews.com)
- House Votes To Extend COBRA Benefits For A Month, Bunning Stalls Senate Action (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Sen. Bunning’s filibuster forces furlough for federal employees working on construction projects (americablog.com)
- Sen. Kyl: Extended unemployment benefits to pass (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Sen. Kyl: Extended Unemployment Benefits to Pass (abcnews.go.com)