Monday, March 1, 2010

Sen. Bunning Continues to Block Unemployment Benefits

Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) is continuing to make quite a name for himself.

Last week, Bunning single-handily blocked the extension of unemployment and COBRA benefits to over one million of the unemployed. Bunning's objections stem from his belief that this 30-day extension of benefits should be paid for prior to passing. Watch as Bunning objects repeatedly to the extension:

In the clip above he states that he will be there as long as the other Senators are in the Chamber to object to every motion to extend the benefits. Later in the evening, after hours of this back and forth, Bunning continued to state his opposition and even complained about missing the University of Kentucky basketball game:

It was also reported that when some Democratic Senators asked Bunning to drop his opposition, Bunning replied, "Tough Shit".

Well today, Bunning displayed some more classy behavior:

and prior to this video clip? From ABC News:

Senator Bunning was even more expressive before the cameras arrived, using a little sign language.

When Senate producer Z. Byron Wolf spotted Bunning exiting his office, Bunning said, “I’m not talking to anybody.” When Wolf asked him to stay and talk to our cameras, Bunning walked toward the elevator and shot the middle finger over his head.

The effects of Bunning's actions are already being felt by the unemployed as was reported by Michael McCauliff of the New York Daily News:

“As of yesterday, 8,000 New Yorkers are left without benefits,” said Leo Rosales, a spokesman for the state Department of Labor. “What it means is, for the days they’re out, there is no money coming in…. You can imagine the worry they have right now.”

Democrats offered a long-term bill this afternoon that would fix the problem through the end of the year, but unless they can amend it to pay back the lost benefits, that money is gone for good.

As the debate advanced in Washington earlier today, Sen. John Kyl (R-AZ) joined the debate and even argued that payment of unemployment benefits is a disincentive for those out of work to seek employment:

Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the Republican whip, argued that unemployment benefits dissuade people from job-hunting "because people are being paid even though they're not working."

Unemployment insurance "doesn't create new jobs. In fact, if anything, continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work," Kyl said during debate over whether unemployment insurance and other benefits that expired amid GOP objections Sunday should be extended.

"I'm sure most of them would like work and probably have tried to seek it, but you can't argue that it's a job enhancer. If anything, as I said, it's a disincentive. And the same thing with the COBRA extension and the other extensions here," said Kyl.

Bunning successfully blocked the motion again earlier today and Senate Democrats are still trying to work around Bunning's objections so that those who are unemployed will receive their benefits.

This piece is cross posted here.

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