Sunday, February 28, 2010

Memories of Hard Times

Some Republicans are coming forward to explain why Sen Jim Bunning [R-KY] is justified in putting a cabash on an extension for unemployment benefits.
"All Senator Bunning was saying quite correctly it ought to be paid for," Sen. Jon Kyl told Fox News' Chris Wallace.
Of course, the reality of this situation is discussed in a Mother Jones article by James Ridgeway, GOP to the Unemployed: Drop Dead (You Bums).
As of Sunday, unemployment benefits will officially end for hundreds of thousands of Americans, thanks to maneuverings by Senate Republicans to prevent a vote that would have extended those benefits. Unless the extension is passed soon, some 1.1 million of the nation’s unemployed will see their unemployment benefits expire in the coming month, and 5 million will lose benefits by June.

The House finally voted to extend benefits on Thursday, after several days of stalling and posturing. But in the Senate, the measure was blocked by Kentucky’s Jim Bunning. Politico reported that late into Thursday night, Bunning held out against repeated Democratic attempts to pass the extension by unanimous consent. In response to entreaties from colleagues across the aisle, other Republican senators rose to defend Bunning's right to obstruct the vote, and Bunning himself was heard to utter, “Tough shit.”

Bunning said he wanted to see the cost of the benefits offset by other savings, to keep from adding to the deficit. But earlier in the week, Nevada Republican Congressman Dean Heller offered another objection to extending unemployment benefits: He believes it might create a nation of bums. [...]
“I believe there should be a federal safety net,” Heller said, but he questioned the wisdom of extending unemployment benefits yet again to a total of 24 months, which Congress is doing. “Is the government now creating hobos?” he asked. [...]
What makes Heller’s statement really stupid, of course, is that people could become hobos if Congress doesn’t extend unemployment benefits, rather than if they do. Modest as they are, these weekly benefits are what’s keeping thousands--and perhaps millions--of families out of poverty. The benefits that expire first are for people who have been out of work the longest, and are most likely to be living close to the edge already. [...]

The heydey of hobos was during the Great Depression, before the New Deal began to weave the social safety net. If Nelson and his fellow Republicans want to see Americans riding the rails, living in tent cities, and lining up at soup kitchens (even more than they already are), all they have to do is keep tearing that safety net apart.
The bill that Sen Jim Bunning has blocked would not only have extended COBRA coverage but would also have prevented a scheduled 21 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors.

It is evident that Bunning isn't concerned about re-election because he's retiring at the end of his term. And when he leaves his job, he won't lose his health care benefits and he won't need unemployment benefits because he will receive a pension for life. The bum!

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