Right-wing media have praised Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) for blocking legislation that would extend unemployment benefits for hundreds of thousands of Americans, prevent rural areas from losing local television, and prevent cuts in Medicare reimbursements to doctors. The Department of Transportation also reportedly furloughed nearly 2,000 workers without pay as a result of Bunning's action.
Loading the player ...
Bunning's hold on bill results in unpaid furloughs, lost jobless benefits
Bunning "single-handedly" blocked bill that would extend federal funding programs. The Chicago Tribune's James Oliphant reported in a March 2 article that Bunning used a procedural tactic to "single-handedly block a bill last week that would have provided a short-term extension for federal funding programs that expired March 1" because "it doesn't include an offset in spending so that the federal deficit doesn't increase."
DOT temporarily lays off nearly 2,000 workers without pay as a result of Bunning's action. A March 1 McClatchy article reported that "[t]he Department of Transportation furloughed nearly 2,000 employees without pay Monday as the government began to feel the impact of Republican Sen. Jim Bunning's one-man blockage of legislation that would keep a host of federal programs operating." McClatchy further reported:
Bunning's "hold" also affects jobless benefits for thousands of unemployed workers, rural television customers, doctors receiving Medicare payments and others.
Bunning wants the $10 billion price of extending the programs offset by reductions in spending elsewhere in the budget to not drive up the deficit.
The Department of Transportation stated that "[t]he action comes as a result of Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning's decision to block key legislation that would have extended several critical priorities for middle class families."
Labor Department: 400,000 will soon lose unemployment benefits if funding is not restored; millions will lose benefits if extension not granted within two months. The Associated Press reported that if the hold lasts through March, "about 1.1 million people would lose benefits." The Labor Department stated that "[i]f Emergency Unemployment Compensation and full federal funding for the Extended Benefit program are not extended, 400,000 Americans will lose unemployment benefits during the first weeks in March" and that "[w]ithout an extension, the number of Americans who lose unemployment insurance benefits will increase to 1.5 million within a month. Within two months, nearly 3 million Americans will have lost their benefits."
Numerous federal highway projects shut down as result of Bunning's hold; 90,000 could lose jobs. McClatchy reported that "[f]ederal projects shut down include more than $38 million in project funding for Idaho's Nez Perce National Forest and Fernan Lakes Idaho Panhandle National Forest and $86 million for bridge replacements in the Washington, D.C., area. Bunning's home state of Kentucky has no projects affected by his action." McClatchy further reported that "[l]etting the highway program lapse could mean an estimated 90,000 jobs lost." McClatchy included the following graphic:
Bill would also provide COBRA subsidies, spare doctors from cuts in Medicare payments, and extend small-business loan and flood insurance programs. The AP reported on March 1 that the legislation blocked by Bunning would provide laid-off workers "with subsidies to help pay health premiums through the COBRA program." The AP further reported that the bill would "spare doctors from a 21 percent cut in Medicare payments" and "extend a small business loan program [and] the National Flood Insurance Program."
Two million families could lose local TV access. McClatchy reported that "[a]s many as 2 million families could lose access to local television because a copyright law expired" as a result of Bunning blocking the bill.
Right-wing media praise, defend Bunning
Carlson: "[H]e's taking a stand, and I'm all for that." On the March 2 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson said of Bunning: "I propose to you that this is what a lot of the people in the American public want their politicians to do right now. Speak your own convictions for God's sake. ... You disagree with something? Don't worry about all the other backlog kind of stuff going on." She continued, "[I]f this is what he believes, he's taking a stand, and I'm all for that."
Ingraham expresses support for Bunning. On the March 2 edition of Fox & Friends, Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham said, "I promise you, if you poll tested that Bunning statement across this country, people would be standing up and cheering him and saying, 'We need more people like Jim Bunning.' " Co-host Steve Doocy said Bunning's "point is, look, we are out of money. How are we going to pay for this stuff?" while co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed that "there is a lot of other people who maybe are on the rolls that don't want to get off the rolls because they know it's going to be extended because it's politically unpopular to stop it."
Baier: Bunning "taking a position that millions of American families have to live by." Introducing a report on Bunning during the March 1 edition of Fox News' Special Report, host Bret Baier said: "The idea of buying only the things you can actually pay for hasn't been a big seller in Washington for decades. And right now, one Republican senator is catching all kinds of grief for taking a position that millions of American families have to live by."
NewsBusters: Bunning "stood up last week for principle." In a March 2 NewsBusters post, Brent Baker wrote: "A retiring Senator not facing re-election stood up last week for principle, insisting new federal spending be covered by a matching reduction elsewhere, but instead of hailing Senator Jim Bunning as a 'maverick' making sure the ruling party adheres to its promise new spending will be 'paid for,' television network journalists on Monday night painted him as an ogre, focusing on the presumed victims of delayed spending."
Limbaugh mocks concern for furloughed workers: "Oh my God, this is the worst thing that's ever ... " On the March 1 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh said: "Now, who knew? Who knew? But if you look at this story, folks, this is the worst thing that could have ever happened. Two-thousand federal workers are going to be furloughed, and there might be a delay in some unemployment benefits being paid. Oh my God, this is the worst thing that's ever -- who knew, folks, that one lone senator from the minority party could wreak so much damage to our economy?" Limbaugh later said, "Unemployment advocates are calling for Jim Bunning to be removed from the Baseball Hall of Fame."
National Review: "Democrats were outraged" by Bunning, "but why?" In a February 27 National Review Online blog post entitled, "Senator Bunning's Unappreciated Gifts," former National Review economics editor and Cato Institute senior fellow Alan Reynolds wrote: "Sen. Jim Bunning (R., Ky.) blocked 'extended' unemployment benefits beyond their scheduled expiration on February 27. That thwarted bill would also have put off, again, a scheduled 21 percent cut in Medicare payments to physicians. Democrats were outraged. But why?" Reynolds claimed the "evidence is overwhelming" that "extending unemployment benefits from six months to nearly two years has raised the unemployment rate by a percentage point or two," and asked, "[H]ow can [Democrats] possibly object to saving money sooner rather than later?"
Erickson: "God bless Senator Bunning. His filibuster is going to put government bureaucrats out of jobs! Hallelujah." In a March 1 Red State post offering support to Kentucky congressional candidate Rand Paul, Erick Erickson wrote: "The point of supporting Rand Paul was driven home to me last Thursday night as Senator Bunning launched a one man filibuster against the Democrats. He came under relentless attack and even his own Republican Party would barely come to his aid (kudos to Bob Corker (R-TN))." Erickson said Paul was a "senator who was his own man, like Senator Bunning." Further, in a February 26 Twitter post, Erickson wrote, "God bless Senator Bunning. His filibuster is going to put government bureaucrats out of jobs! Hallelujah."
RedState blogger: Bunning "standing strong for the American people." RedState blogger "hogan" wrote in a February 26 post: "Last night, while most Americans were watching the Olympics, Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) was standing strong for the American people on the floor of the United States Senate. Oh, it won't be portrayed as such -- believe me." The post further stated: "Bunning took to the floor to object to a unanimous consent request to call up and pass the House-passed extension of a number of expiring so-called 'stimulus' and other benefit programs, because Bunning dared to ask the simple question of how these extensions would be paid for."