With his successful blockage last night of a motion to extend unemployment benefits for millions of Americans amidst rising joblessness, stagnant job creation and potential domestic cannibalism, Sen. Jim Bunning was awake long enough during a session of Congress to outfail even himself — and single-handedly drag the entire country down with him.
Basically, the Senate was trying to pass an extension of unemployment benefits that, if not passed by this week, will result in a gap of payment disbursement large enough to clusterfuck not only the unemployment programs state-by-state, but do irreparable harm to millions of jobless Americans already drowning under a sea of bills, debt and existential anguish. Thanks to Bunning’s effort, the extension wasn’t filed and the Senate has since recessed for the weekend.
According to Politico, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, begged Bunning to stop being such a stubborn asshole and drop his objection, to which Bunning replied “Tough shit.”
Of course, as with all things Bunning, the shit didn’t stop there. From The HuffingtonPost (emphasis mine):
… at one point during the debate, which dragged on till early midnight, Bunning complained of missing a basketball game.”
“I have missed the Kentucky-South Carolina game that started at 9:00,” he said, “and it’s the only redeeming chance we had to beat South Carolina since they’re the only team that has beat Kentucky this year.”
If you want a picture of what is wrong with the Senate — and this country — here it is, crystalline and smug and disinterested in the needs of others. For an institution that was designed to protect against the “tyranny of the majority,” the Senate has devolved into a fiefdom of minority tyrannies, whose ability to fuck over the suffering majority at the whim of an angry old man who cannot program a fucking TiVo should be cause for alarm, but no: We’re too busy watching basketball right next to him.
And Bunning’s rationale — that we shouldn’t add to the deficit even if it means that countless men, women and children will starve, lose their home or both — doesn’t hold even the most microscopic drop of water when you consider the enormous administrative costs associated with shutting down these programs only to restart them. I talked with a few people in the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training and they were decidedly nonplussed over the news, which shouldn’t be surprising considering we’ve no money to fix our own problems much less those engineered by U.S. senators with a wildcat fetish. Their main concern: this will be extremely bad for poor people during the absolute worst possible time, period.
During the potentially month-long gap between disbursements, many Americans will slip through the cracks as state-level unemployment entitlement programs scramble to deal with the stop-start dynamic put into motion by Bunning, meaning many will be eliminated from the roles simply because the whole goddamn mess is unnecessary and confusing. And Because Bunning will not be seeking re-election, he doesn’t need anybody — not even his own party — to sanction his actions. While I’m not necessarily advocating he be physically removed from office, buried to his neck and urinated upon by willing constituents, I’m not exactly saying it’s a bad idea, either.
Democracy, after all, is a messy process, so why not join in on all the fun by calling these numbers, when you’ve a moment and some extra spleen to burn: 202-224-4343 — 859-341-2602 — 1-800-283-8983