Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

March 1, 2010

HE'S FLIPPING OFF MORE THAN JUST JOURNALISTS.... Sen. Jim Bunning (R) of Kentucky, who has occasionally seemed mentally unstable in recent years, is single-handedly blocking a bipartisan measure to extend unemployment benefits for Americans out of work, which has also led thousands of transportation workers to be furloughed without pay today.

Today, Democrats tried once again to garner unanimous consent to end this fiasco. And for the seventh time, Bunning blocked passage.

Despite warnings of hardships for the unemployed and highway workers, Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning on Monday again held up legislation that extends unemployment and health insurance benefits.

Benefits for about one million Americans stopped Sunday night after Bunning objected last week to an attempt to fast-track a bill that would have extended payments.

Bunning is feeling some heat over this, and he's not handling the pressure especially well. The senator has a bit of a run-in with the media today on the Hill, and resorted to flipping off an ABC News journalist this afternoon.

And given the scope of Bunning's truly ridiculous obstructionism, the bizarre right-wing senator seems to be actually flipping off the entire country.

Here's a list of transportation projects that have come to a halt because Jim Bunning is throwing a temper tantrum, and here's how it's affecting small businesses.

I received an email earlier suggesting I haven't been entirely fair -- Bunning has a rationale for screwing over all of these struggling Americans, and it's only right to let people know. OK, here it goes: Bunning wants the funding to come from the stimulus, instead of being added to the deficit. He wants to see the money follow pay-as-you-go rules (PAYGO), instead of making an exception.

But here are the details Bunning hopes you'll forget: he opposes PAYGO, and has repeatedly voted to extend unemployment benefits through deficit spending before.

And so, the nation waits, either for one right-wing clown to end his tantrum, or for the Senate to jump through the procedural hoops to overcome Bunning's obstruction -- which could push off a vote until next week.

For anyone who doubts the urgent need for Senate reform, Bunning is offering Exhibit A.

Steve Benen 3:10 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (47)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

[...] Bunning wants the funding to come from the stimulus, instead of being added to the deficit. -- Steve Benen

I seem to remember that, at one point, Reid was willing to debate that point and, perhaps, accommodate Bunning a bit. Whreupon Bunning changed course again and said he wasn't interested. It's not the source of *funding* that Bunning is objecting to; it's the source of the legislation (Dems). Since he's retiring anyway, he's got nothing to lose anymore and can indulge in every infantile tantrum that comes to his diseased mind. Why Reid puts up with this crap is beyond me...

Posted by: exlibra on March 1, 2010 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Hold all Republicans accountable for this one mentally distrubed senator. Where are the courageous Americans in Congress? Call in the Sergeant at arms to carry him off the floor.
Declare him an enemy of the state and confine him for observation.

Posted by: st john on March 1, 2010 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK
Bunning is offering Exhibit A

We are so far beyond "Exhibit A" it's ridiculous. We're closer to Exhibit X, Y or Z, or maybe in AA or AB.

Posted by: Michael W on March 1, 2010 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Paygo? The Republicans were for it before they were against it. I guess Bunning is just confused about the talking point de jur.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 1, 2010 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Is the Senate in competent hands?

Yup, a bunch of them are incompetent!

The reduction in Medicare payments to docs is also going to haunt the (dis)honorable Senator from Kentucky.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on March 1, 2010 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

Democracy is the worst possible form of government until you consider the alternatives.

Bunting is exercising his First Amendment rights, and anyone who would deny him that is not a true American.

Posted by: Al on March 1, 2010 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

If Bunning wants pay-go, he should specify where he wants the money to come from. The stimulus wasn't paid for, so taking the money from there doesn't actually make the expenditure fit pay-go rules, since it still adds to the deficit. Can't wait until bunning is unemployed...

Posted by: beyond left on March 1, 2010 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

it is critical that the Dems show some messaging competence for once and get out in front making Bunning the face of the GOP. This isn't "Wacky Jim Bunning screws over the nation." This is "Senior Republican Senator screws over the nation; Republican party wont stop him; here are the negative consequences for everyday Americans. . ."

Posted by: zeitgeist on March 1, 2010 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Al the concern troll returns. "Bunting is exercising his First Amendment rights" Bunning's temper tantrum has nothing whatsoever to do with his 1st amendment rights. He is welcome to criticize the bill all he wants, even on the senate floor, the stairs of the capitol, in a city park. Obstructing the will of the senate by holding unemployment extension and highway funds hostage for no discernible reason (deficit reduction is laughable coming from the tax cut and spend repiglicans) is egregiously abusing his senatorial rights.

Posted by: beyond left on March 1, 2010 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

No empathy for a fool who creates misery for others, especially in the name of "Senator!" Bunning is a disgrace to humanity, and his soul will rot in hell for an eternity! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on March 1, 2010 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Bunning, your doing it all wrong. Pay closer attention to how LIEberman does it. His way you get to keep coming back again and again.

Posted by: Kevin on March 1, 2010 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

At what point does Bunning's behavior violate Senate ethics? Personally, I think he passed that point last week.

There has to be some procedure to kick that bum out of the building in order to get business done.

Posted by: PaulW on March 1, 2010 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Bunning has been a little on the unhinged side ever since it became clear that Kentucky Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, were not going to pony up for this year's re-election bid. Bunning grudgingly announced he'd retire at the end of this term, but he's obviously still very bitter and angry, and really doesn't care who he hurts.

Posted by: Dan on March 1, 2010 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Where are Mitch McConnell and Eric Cantor? Has anyone asked them about this? Republicans seem to have a lot of party discipline they can enforce when they want to, so doesn't that imply that they approve of Bunning's tactic?

If I belonged to a competent political party, they'd be working the phones to turn this into a political nightmare for the GOP. "Senior GOP leadership approves of cutting health care payments for seniors!! Republican senators don't care about jobs or fixing the economy!" This would be a nice start for a campaign theme to run through November.

Sadly, I'm a member of the Democratic Party, so the only message that will get through to the public (aside from politcal junkies) is that our system is broken and Democrats can't make anything happen.

Sigh.

Posted by: biggerbox on March 1, 2010 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

It's the same as yelling "You lie!" at the President on live tv. It's the same as saying Democratic members of congress should be investigated as communists live on a cable news show. He'll be a media star making his way from one show to another before this is over.

Posted by: SaintZak on March 1, 2010 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Am I missing something here? Can't the Dems force him to try and mount a one-man filibuster?

Posted by: A DC Wonk on March 1, 2010 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

It's almost enough to make me burn my old Bunning baseball cards. I always thought that Frank Lary was the better pitcher anyway.

Posted by: G.Kerby on March 1, 2010 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

"This isn't "Wacky Jim Bunning screws over the nation." This is "Senior Republican Senator screws over the nation; Republican party wont stop him; here are the negative consequences for everyday Americans. . ."

But wait, it gets better... this is Jim Bunning getting away with it partly because the supine ahd shameful Democrats can't muster the balls to criticize this outrageous behavior.

"Thank you, sir, may I have another one, sir"? That should become the Democratic Party's slogan.

Harry Reid really must go, and the sooner the better. For the sake of the country, I truly hope the Nevadans vote the hopeless coward out of office.

And, speaking of which, when, oh when, is Obama going to grow a pair and start speaking out loudly about the traitorous opposition?

Canada's looking better all the time.

Posted by: Bluecrab on March 1, 2010 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

This is simply wierd. Has anyone considered a physiological cause? I once had a co-worker act like this who it turned out had hydroencephalitis. Maybe depression? Maybe he has some interference with his meds? Alzheimers?

I mean, come on - get that guy to "the best health care in the world"....

Posted by: bigtuna on March 1, 2010 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

CNN's website doesn't seem to have this story at all. So it doesn't exist and won't until some Dems go make a big, big public display of this and link it to a theme of "Republicans are the party of no, no, no."

Even when Dems are handed a golden opportunity they can't seem to do anything about it. Has Obama said anything?

Posted by: JohnN on March 1, 2010 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

I suspect the Democrats are afraid that the fight would devolve into something about paygo and that they would be spun as hopeless hypocrites.

That is not to say that their fear wouldn't be a step for a stepper. They just are afraid of the media. As a result, thousands are being laid off and hundreds of thousands won't get their unemployment checks.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 1, 2010 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

If Dems don't hang the Bunning Albatross around the GOP's neck, then they truly are fools.

I would aggressively cast Bunning as a GOP-backed obstructionist until they overtly intervened.

The silence is deafening.

Posted by: bdop4 on March 1, 2010 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

bdcop4--word.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 1, 2010 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

This is a child breaking a toy so no one else can play with it. I believe it is a big FU to his own party that basically told him to get lost and that they ain't giving him jack for his re-election campaign. Basically if he can't be a legislator, he'll be a fricken prick so no legislation can be accomplished.

One the brighter side, at least there is a silver lining. If this doesn't wake up a few folks about procedure abuse, what will ?

Thank bible belt for giving us another total worthless hack in Congress.

Posted by: ScottW on March 1, 2010 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

I've heard people say -- seriously -- that it's Alzheimers.

BTW, TPM is reporting that Bunning has created an immediate 21% decrease in Medicaid reimbursement fees.

And to repeat my question above: is this something that the Dems can force him to filibuster by himself, or is there really nothing that can be done?

(If the former, then blame Reid, not Bunning)

Posted by: A DC Wonk on March 1, 2010 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

So what are they gonna do. Threaten him with his job? Oops...too late, the GOP already forced him out of running for reelction (enter Rand Paul). This really is teh GOP in a nutshell. This spoiled brat baseball player is grabbing the spotlight and hanging onto it for as long as he can, and because of the Sacred Senate Rules there isn't a damn thing to be done about it. Bunning is totally liberated now, he doesn't have to worry about re-election or the love and admiration of his peers. Rogue Republican indeed.

Posted by: bcinaz on March 1, 2010 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

I don't really care to see him labled as crazy or wacky. I want to see him clearly identified over and over in the media and in the minds of the public as Republican.

Posted by: sparrow on March 1, 2010 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

As I said upthread, declare him an enemy of the state and remove him from the floor of the senate. That this discussion is still going on tells me that no one has any influence with the MSM. Has anyone questioned CNN, et al, and received a response?
Barbara Boxer, (D-CA), made a plea for money based on Bunning's action, but she did not say what she would do. I responded to her by asking for a result, not a promise.

If someone who is questionable in mental health is allowed to damage his fellow Americans, then those who allow him to continue, whether Dem, Repub. or Independent, are all culpable.

And, where are those whose benefits are removed or held-up?

Posted by: st john on March 1, 2010 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Bunning has been a little on the unhinged side ever since it became clear that Kentucky Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, were not going to pony up for this year's re-election bid.

That's understating it by four years and a few orders of magnitude of "unhinged." Here's an article from 2004:

It's no secret in Kentucky that Sen. Jim Bunning, a Republican who was expected to coast to reelection on Nov. 2, has been acting strange. Over the past few months, Bunning has angrily pushed away reporters, exchanged testy words with a questioner at a Rotary Club and stuck to brief, heavily scripted remarks at campaign events, delivered in a halting monotone. The former major league baseball star now travels the Bluegrass State with a special police escort, at taxpayer expense. His explanation? Al-Qaida may be out to get him.

More substantively, the incumbent would agree to only one debate with his Democratic challenger, state Sen. Daniel Mongiardo. And the rules Bunning negotiated were bizarrely rigid: The encounter could not be live; the taping has to occur in the afternoon, not the evening; no audience could be present in the studio; and, under threat of legal action, Mongiardo could not use any sound clips or video of Bunning's debate performance in campaign advertisements.

This was the debate he needed a teleprompter to get through, which at first he denied using, and then when the prompter angle came out, he started leading witch hunts in his own campaign. Before the election even happened.

Whatever may or may not be wrong with him medically, Bunning is an angry, paranoid, and only occasionally lucid wreck, and has been for his entire Senate term.

Posted by: Matt on March 1, 2010 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, Matt. So, with 4 year old evidence, we are still stuck with a mental incompetent, and the blame is spread across the Senate and the House. Homeland Security, indeed. This man is a threat to the Nation's security, and he stands on the floor of the Senate and flips us all off.

Posted by: st john on March 1, 2010 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Sometime last month, Krugman described the early 18th century Polish parliamentary trick, where a single legislator could wreck months (or years) of negotiations simply by yelling "I do not allow". Krugman was talking about Shelby and his holds but the same is now true about Bunning. Here's *one* little cock, standing on his dunghill, his comb swollen and red, exercising his right to "liberum veto", crowing "I do not allow! Kukuryku".

I remember learning about the process in school, 50 years ago, and it made my gorge rise then as much as it does now. Liberum veto, by itself, was enough to excuse every "dumb Polack joke" I ever heard since coming here. But what excuse does US have for tolerating the same kind of idiot behaviour?

Posted by: exlibra on March 1, 2010 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

The real problem isn't that there are many members of Congress who appear to be either openly crazy, liars, and/or corporate prostitutes, but that they manage to keep getting re-elected.

Posted by: qwerty on March 1, 2010 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

And --
Bunning choked in the 1964 pennant race.

Posted by: pa on March 1, 2010 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

Here is the first sentence from the AP Story on Bunning's behavior. Read it and abandon all hope for a responsible media. "WASHINGTON - Political gridlock in the Senate has triggered a 21 percent cut in Medicare fees to doctors."

It isn't until the 2nd paragraph that Bunning's name is mentioned.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 1, 2010 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

"it is critical that the Dems show some messaging competence for once"

Yeah, and I wish my dog would do my taxes, too.

Come to think, I doubt he would do any worse.

Posted by: bluestatedon on March 1, 2010 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

"I always thought that Frank Lary was the better pitcher anyway."

Do I detect a fellow Detroit Tigers fan here? I doubt a fan of any other team would be connecting Bunning and the Yankee Killer together.

Posted by: bluestatedon on March 1, 2010 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

I sent Bunning an e-mail calling him out as a coward for refusing to answer to the media. All should do the same.

Posted by: Ol'Froth on March 1, 2010 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

As a resident of KY, I called Bunning's office (after hours) to register my disappointment at his actions but only got a message that his mailbox was full.

Posted by: mwbugg on March 1, 2010 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

A number of senators seem to be gaga, and dangerously venomous as well. If a sitting senator, one of the tiny club of 100 who and affect millions of lives and control billions of dollars, is no long compos, can anything be done? Bunning seems like a medical case, period. Some senators are lazy or intellectually incapable (even on a good day) of following thought more complex than playground insults; if their constituents choose to elect unqualified representatives, that's their right. But what about those who are literally beyond reason because of age or infirmity? This really is almost unimaginable what is going on.

Posted by: SF on March 1, 2010 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

The comment that Bunning has seemed to be mentally unstable makes sense. He has no regard for the position that the unemployed find themselves in through no fault of their own. You can only get unemployment if you were not let go for cause or did not quit. The people getting unemployment didn't leave their jobs. The jobs left them. When someone as powerful as a United States Senator becomes this unstable, there should be provisions to address the issue and remove him. I know he is being pushed out by his own party, but you can see just how much damage a mentally unstable, lame-duck official can do once he sets his little pea brain to it.

Posted by: PPearson on March 1, 2010 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

As of 6:00 PM, WAVE-TV was reporting the increasing disatisfaction with Bunning's actions, including that of our Democratic govenor Steve Beshear.

And Bunning STILL hasn't answered WAVE-TV's phone requests for explanation.

But, let's keep in mind, he couldn't do this without the help of at least 40 enablers, all or most of whom, I suspect, have an "R" after their names .... :(

Posted by: knightphoenix2 on March 1, 2010 at 9:37 PM | PERMALINK

Do I detect a fellow Detroit Tigers fan here? I doubt a fan of any other team would be connecting Bunning and the Yankee Killer together.

Yep. I even had a "Taters" glove as a kid!

Posted by: G.Kerby on March 1, 2010 at 10:14 PM | PERMALINK

How on earth can we claim, with a straight face, to live in a democracy when, literally, a single individual in the Senate can block passage of legislation. Apparently, in addition to the POTUS, any of 100 selfish, preening, or in the case of Bunning, bat shit loony tunes off the rails crazy, Senators also has veto power.

The Senate is a national disgrace.

Posted by: Vince on March 2, 2010 at 2:13 AM | PERMALINK

>If Bunning wants pay-go, he should specify where he wants the money to come from.

Yeah, none of the links seem to show how much it was, but I think yesterday I read it was like 10-15 billion.

Would be like "couch change" to pull out of the military budget(s). But of course nobody will mention that.

Posted by: doesn't matter on March 2, 2010 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe now we can quit electing people just because they have been good athletes. Which ones (aside from Jack Kemp)have been worth their salt? I'm sure there are some others, but what's the matter with us?

Posted by: cwotton on March 2, 2010 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

What the author fails to speak of is the fact that Congress and the White house just passed and signed into law the "pay as you go" bill just 2 weeks ago.

The real stupidity of congress here is to why this is an emergency? Did no one in congress realize this money was running out until right before it did? That is the incompetence of Washington on both the left and the right.
If Congress and the white House is going to brag about passing legislation that requires fiscal responsibility, then I say make them hold to it.

Bunning suggested that the UNUSED part of the stimulus money be used to fund this bill. If your memory is too short ot remember we have most of that 787 billion dollars still sitting there and not spent. I has already been borrowed so it would not add to the national debt.

Obama and Democrats would rather pass blame than to live up to things they say they are for.

Posted by: Rob on March 2, 2010 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

I see a bunch of uninformed idiots posting on this site.One who thinks the money should come from the military budget.News Flash to the idiots.Obama just cut the military budget by 20%.My question to the idiots "Are you willing to fight the war"? If not SHUT UP!NOBAMA promised jobs.Idiots, I ask "Where are these jobs"? Who got the stimulus money? Do you know or care how many Goldman Sachs former employees are in NOBAMA'S cabinet and sub-cabinet?That's where the money went.AIG was Goldman Sachs' largest creditor.Grow a brain.

Posted by: Patriot on March 2, 2010 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly