Tuesday, March 02, 2010

What Senator Jim Bunning Is Really Doing

The big story in American politics the last few days has to do with Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning, who has been characterized by the Democrats and their allies as an Evil Rethuglican mounting a filibuster solely designed to hurt the unemployed.

Reality? There's not a single word in the above characterization with any truth to it.

First of all, this is not a 'filibuster', and anyone who calls it one is a few chickpeas shy of a felafel. I'm looking at you, Kevin Drum and Carl Hulse.

Senator Jim Bunning - just because he wants any additional spending of this kind to be paid for - is instead objecting to what's called a unanimous consent request by Senate Democrats to pass a $10 billion bill without any debate or amendment that would temporarily extend unemployment benefits, transportation funding, medicare reimbursement, COBRA subsidies and other expenditures. Essentially, the Democrats want each U.S. Senator to automatically vote “yes” to this spending bill out of hand without examining it in the least!

A filibuster, my friends is something very different. It can be an actual classic filibuster where a Senator gets control of the Senate floor and will yield only for questions while continuing to speak or these days, simply calling a filibuster, thereby delaying passage of a bill. Or, a “filibuster” under Rule 22 of the Standing Rules of the Senate where debate is continuous unless “cloture” is filed to shut off debate on pending bill.

However, the Senate Democrats did not call this bill up to give it floor time. Instead, they simply asked for 'unanimous consent' to pass it. Senator Bunning simply does not wish to give his consent unless he sees how it's going to be paid for.

All the Dems have to do if they want this passed is to submit the bill and let it be voted on. The fact that they haven't may mean that there are more than a few Donkeys having second thoughts about this, because on a straight party line vote they would have no problem passing this.

I realize that this sort of fiscal responsibility is unpopular in the Age of Obama, but there it is.

Full disclosure - Senator Bunning is taking this stand because he has nothing to lose, since he's not running for re-election. I would have had a lot more respect for him had he done this sooner. But the fact the this is too little too late doesn't make it wrong on the face of it.

And speaking of full disclosure, who is hurting the unemployed more - Senator Bunning insisting that we simply show how we're going to pay for $10 billion increased spending before we commit to it of President Obama's job destroying, wastefully spend-a-holic economic policies?

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