The Kentucky Republican blocked emergency funding for unemployment benefits because there was no offset in spending.
Earlier this week one U.S. senator, Jim Bunning, R-Ky., had the federal government by the throat -- figuratively speaking. He was using a little legislative muscle to protest deficit spending.
Bunning used Senate rules to block passage of approval for emergency funding for a cluster of federal programs, including those that administers unemployment and health-insurance benefits.
As a result, the federal government had to furlough workers while thousands braced for an end to their health-insurance benefits and unemployment checks.
The outcry was loud, and all aimed at Bunning. How could one man be so mean?
"Bunning's done more in the past few days to call attention to Republican procedural abuses in the Senate than anything we've seen before," said Rep. Chris Van Hellen, D-Md.
Yes, Bunning did create some angst and the loss of a few dollars. But what he did was not necessarily procedural abuse.
Bunning's decision to put the squeeze on the government for a few days -- he OK'd the funding Tuesday -- was a protest. He was railing against the way Congress approves the spending of borrowed money without giving any thought to the fact the action is digging the nation deeper and deeper in debt.
Now, Bunning understands the government and its programs have got to be funded. It would be irresponsible to allow the government to stumble or deny needed unemployment benefits. Bunning didn't come close to doing that.
Bunning simply caused folks to become irritated.
Maybe it will wake a few more people up to the reality that when spending is increased in one area it needs to be decreased in another unless there is new revenue (taxes or fees) to pay for it.
Bunning openly proclaimed that he opposed the 30-day extension of federal unemployment insurance benefits because the proposal didn't include an offset in spending. Congress has passed legislation requiring it to pay rather than borrow for any new spending, but the requirement was waived for the unemployment legislation.
"I hope the American people understand my serious objections," Bunning said at the time.
So, too, do we.
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