For four days, he has been on a one-man campaign to cut off unemployment benefits, kick the unemployed off of health insurance, cut Medicare payments to doctors, deny satellite TV to rural Americans, shut down federal flood insurance and highway projects, and furlough thousands of federal workers.
Democrats can hardly believe the gift Bunning has given them by single-handedly shutting down these popular programs. Bunning's fellow Republicans are aghast. If this were baseball, the Hall of Famer would be on his way down to triple-A. But this is the Senate, where any one of the 100 members has the ability to bring proceedings to a halt, and Bunning continues to hurl his wild pitches.
Bunning's tale is telling for just how hard it will be for the government to get its fiscal house in order. Bunning is objecting to $10 billion in extensions for unemployment benefits because the Congress isn't paying for them. $10 billion is about one quarter of one percent of the yearly spending of the U.S. government. Less than a month ago the Congress passed pay go. So, any new spending needed to be offset with a cut somewhere else. (there were of course plenty of exceptions to this but that's another story)
So, Bunning is simply demanding that the Congress do what they have mandated themselves to do. For his trouble, he's created a mini firestorm. He was cornered and harassed by ABC reporters.
Bunning certainly didn't help himself or his case by his abrasive and less than hospitable attitude towards those reporters. Still, Ben Nelson didn't face nearly this much media scrutiny after the Cornhusker kickback.
Bunning is asking for $10 billion spending cuts. That's it. The firestorm would have some believe that he wants to cede the state of Hawaii. What's going to happen when our politicans have to make decisions about hundreds of billions in necessary spending cuts. All politicians are for cuts in spending until you actually have to make specific cuts in spending. Then, they're all about demonization.