Tuesday, March 2, 2010

High & Tight: Bunning Throws Dems a Curveball

My Fellow Americans,

Let me start off today by saying I sympathize with the unemployed out there – scratch that – the unemployed who are actively looking for work.  I get that it’s hard – and it just flat out sucks.  I know that because people close to me suffered through tough times during periods of unemployment.  It’s not a pretty picture.

bunning But, let’s break down the decision of Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) (photo: Google) to block “Democratic attempts to enact a short-term extension of unemployment benefits and COBRA subsidies for a million Americans” (ABC News).  While the immediate backlash from the mainstream media is nothing new, Bunning should be commended for taking a stand.  What Bunning wants is for the bill to be paid for before it is passed.  What a novel idea wouldn’t you say?  Given the trillions of dollars of debt in which the United States finds itself, $10 billion in unemployment benefits can certainly be considered a “drop in the bucket.”  And rightfully so.  But, we should at least start somewhere, right?

I thought Stuart Varney, Fox News contributor and host of “Varney & Co.” on the Fox Business Network, put it best on Sean Hannity’s March 2 radio show when he asked why no other senator stood up there with Bunning when he held his ground for the American taxpayer.  Why wasn’t anybody else up there?  Should we be more worried that other senators didn’t accompany Bunning as he took a stand against more out of control government spending – or that one million unemployed individuals didn’t get an extension on their benefits?  To paraphrase Varney, when do we say no?  We need to stop the spending, stop the borrowing – we need to get the money from somewhere and not just pass the debt on to our children.

Luckily, for us, Bunning said no.  He did the difficult thing.  He had that uncomfortable conversation.  "I believe we should pay for it," Bunning said. "I'm trying to make a point to the people of the United States."  And thank God somebody was willing to take a stand for the American.

As I said – it was a difficult thing for Bunning to do – especially in tough economic times.  As Yahoo! News blog contributor, Brett Michael Dykes, explains it:

Since cutting health and unemployment benefits isn't the most popular thing to do in a job-starved recession, the Senate had reached near unanimity on extending these programs. But near-unanimous isn't enough when senators are looking to stretch out the lifespan of benefits about to lapse-they need to reach unanimous consent. And that requirement has delivered a great deal of power into Bunning's hands-- power that has allowed him to block the extension until the Senate find $10.3 billion in spending cuts elsewhere to fund the safety-net spending.

Unpopular?  Sure.  Fiscally prudent?  Well, it helps.  Bunning’s move comes at a time when American reliance on the government is at an all-time high.  Consider what Patrice Hill of The Washington Times had to say in a March 1 article:

The so-called "Great Recession" has left Americans depending on the government dole like never before.

Without record levels of welfare, unemployment and other government benefits as well as tax cuts last year, the income of U.S. households would have plunged by an astonishing $723 billion — more than four times the record $167 billion drop reported last month by the Commerce Department.

Moreover, for the first time since the Great Depression, Americans took more aid from the government than they paid in taxes.

[…] "Governmental support was critical in keeping the economy, particularly consumer spending, from completely collapsing during the crisis," said Harm Bandholz, an economist at Unicredit Markets. He said he is concerned that so much of the economic rebound is a result of government spending rather than a revival of private income and jobs. That situation is unsustainable, he said, because the government has had to borrow massively to prop up the economy and cannot continue that binge for long.

[…] The massive shift into dependence on the government, while essential in promoting an economic revival last year, has postponed a reckoning for many consumers who went too far into debt to maintain their lifestyles during the boom years, Mr. Bandholz said.

While the government was lavishing aid, banks were cutting credit to consumers by a record $250 billion, nearly as much as the amount consumers gained from government transfer payments.

"This shift only postpones a solution to the problem" by substituting government debt for consumer debt, Mr. Bandholz said. "These elevated debt loads will at least result in sluggish growth rates for the time being — and if the problem is not tackled with determination, it might very well lead to another crisis."

Very interesting.  So, maybe, just maybe there is a method to Bunning’s supposed ‘madness?’ 

"If we cant find $10 billion somewhere for a bill that everybody in this body supports, we will never pay for anything," Mr. Bunning said.

Say what you want, America, but the man has a point.

No comments:

Post a Comment