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Parliamentary Maneuvers

© Tom Toles

Not only was Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) singlehandedly blocking unemployment benefits for millions of Americans, he also put a hold on all of Obama’s nominees last week. The Senate ground to a halt, with the economy following closely. This is what some politicians will do in the name of partisan bickering.

The only good news is that Bunning apparently finally realized how much he was pissing everyone off, and ended his filibuster on the unemployment benefits. But he had one last procedural maneuver up his sleeve: an amendment to the bill that was ironically quickly scuttled by a procedural maneuver. Of course, that didn’t stop Bunning from hypocritically deriding the move as “a procedural gimmick”. I guess it isn’t a procedural gimmick when the Republicans do it.



  1. If you had to have one or the other, though, wouldn’t you prefer someone like Jim Bunning over someone like John Boehner representing the party leadership?

    John Boehner is lying to the public (out of political convenience) every time he asserts that the healthcare bill is a deficit-financed bill.
    Scott Brown is lying to the public (out of political convenience) every time he equates the Senate Reconciliation process and the Nuclear option.
    Michael Steele is lying to the public (out of political convenience) every time he rails against government spending at the same time as he rails against cuts in Medicare.

    But Jim Bunning is (more or less) telling the truth when it’s not politically convenient to do so. The extended unemployment benefits, however little a part of the federal budget and however helpful to society, would indeed be deficit-financed. This kind of behavior is at least straightforward and the starting point for real political debate. It’s why I wish libertarians spoke for the Republican party.

    …All this is not to forget Jim Bunning’s hypocrisy in the past: He was OK with trading a surplus for a deficit when Republicans were in charge…He voted to put a pair of trillion dollar wars, the $1.8 trillion Bush tax cuts and a 100% deficit-financed Medicare drug benefit on the nation’s credit card…but still…

    Wednesday, March 3, 2010 at 8:27 am | Permalink
  2. starluna wrote:

    Actually, I prefer none of them.

    I can’t say I see much truth in someone who argues that deficit financed unemployment benefits is bad, but deficit financed corporate welfare is good.

    Bunning’s actions are equally dishonest in my view because his argument isn’t based on the fact that all of the things in that reconciliation package would be deficit-financed. It is founded on the idea that these are not worthy of deficit financing.

    Wednesday, March 3, 2010 at 9:18 am | Permalink
  3. starluna wrote:

    Oh, and given that this was a 30 day extension to, Bunning’s argument was really: “Everything paid for in this bill is not worthy of short term deficit financing while we continue to work on the larger budget issues.”

    Wednesday, March 3, 2010 at 9:21 am | Permalink
  4. Iron Knee wrote:

    Daniel, your argument sounds good, but only if you ignore your last paragraph. If there was any evidence at all that Bunning actually cared about the deficit, then I would agree with you. As it is, this is partisan theater of the lowest kind.

    Yes, the Democrats did pass the resolution against deficit spending and this bill breaks that resolution. So you could call the Democrats hypocrites … except that the resolution does allow for exceptions like this one. And at least the Dems are trying to actually do something about the deficit (which they managed to eliminate under Clinton). The health care reform bill will actually reduce the deficit, while the Republicans didn’t care one whit about that when they passed Medicare part D.

    So do I think Boehner is worse than Bunning? Perhaps. But only because Bunning is retiring soon.

    Wednesday, March 3, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Permalink
  5. Good points.

    @starluna. Actually, to say that corporate welfare is worthy of increasing the deficit while social welfare is not…you have to admit, is a matter of opinion. I’d even argue that the most honest thing for Congressional Republicans to do would be to outright say so. After all, that’s how many Latin American and African countries are run to this day, and life is very good for the rich people there. Maybe, then maybe, poor and rural Americans across the country might wake up to the fact that Republicans in Congress are not looking out for them. Take Scott Brown, for example – many of my working class friends and neighbors think his economic policies are going to be good for them, and that’s not a matter of opinion, that’s just incorrect.

    @Iron Knee. I’m a bit frustrated with calling this kind of thing partisan theater while also calling things like the 3 GOP governors grandstanding last year against the Recovery Act when they knew their state legislatures would make them accept it ‘partisan theater’. Can’t we agree that one is more dishonest than the other? If we call them out on all their dishonesty, we’re going run up against what the single-payer folks ran up against…political paralysis. But if we accept that they’re going to lie, and carefully pick our fights on the most egregious ones while letting the other ones slide…(like Bill Clinton did!) we might actually pass a few bills.

    Wednesday, March 3, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Permalink