March 3rd, 2010
02:02 PM ET
4 years ago

Bridging the divide between Congress, constituents

 Sen. Jim Bunning's decision to block a bill extending unemployment benefits was a smack in the face to struggling Americans across the country.
Sen. Jim Bunning's decision to block a bill extending unemployment benefits was a smack in the face to struggling Americans across the country.

(CNN) - Sen. Jim Bunning's decision to block a bill extending unemployment benefits was a smack in the face to struggling Americans across the country.

The Kentucky Republican demanded the extension be paid for instead of adding to the deficit, although in the past, he voted for similar extensions that did not include budget offsets.

Bunning relented, but critics still blasted him as tone-deaf, a label stapled to much of Congress over the past year.

While it's "extraordinarily rare" for Congress to be admired by the public, right now, the dissatisfaction with the legislative branch is intensified, said Norman Ornstein, a longtime congressional observer with the American Enterprise Institute.

"It's fairly clear that there's a high anger level that the public has with Congress - higher than we've seen it in a while, and up at levels comparable to what we've had with other wave elections that have brought substantial turnover," Ornstein said.

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Filed under: Congress • Jim Bunning
soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. fair

    Jim Bunning is a man who told the truth. I admire him.

    March 3, 2010 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  2. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    Bunning was looking out for the long-term survival of the American economy versus the profligacy of the Democratic Party.

    At any time, the Dems could simply have cooperated with Bunning and agreed to give up a relatively small $10 billion in pork to fund their "emergency" measure. Instead, they opted to try the business-as-usual, for Democrats, at least, of basically writing another rubber check, to be funded by borrowed money, to be repaid, with interest.

    Sometimes it's not easy or popular to do the right thing, and politicians are famous for doing the easy and popular wrong thing. Bunning refused to do that. He deserves to be commended, not condemned, for his actions.

    March 3, 2010 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  3. Debbie P.

    Where is the help for people whose unemployment has already or is about to run out? This bill that just passed only helps those who are drawing in a tier already and have money left to draw on. When is congress going to step up and help the american people who are in dire need NOW? It shouldn't take our government so long to come to the aid of its citizens. This unemployment assistance for our people is comparable to the time it took to get assistance to the victims of hurricane katrina. It is totally uncalled for. There are families who are suffering and struggling while lawmakers haggle over this. Yet they go home to live the good life. It doesnt take congress this long to send assistance to other countries when they have need. The american people should not have to take a back seat to the rest of the world. Its time congress steps up and fulfills the jobs they were elected to-working for the people of this country. Pass a bill for unemployment assistance to the end of the year NOW, TODAY, not next week or next month. Help those who helped you get where you are. There will always be another election. I hope voters remember the struggles, strifes and tears of their fellow citizens at that time.

    March 3, 2010 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  4. Michelle

    There's going to be a "substantial turnover" all right, but I think it's going to be surprising who is not returned to or sent to Washington...the Republicans are going to take a hit for being so hateful to the President and the American people. You can want to ruin an administration, but when you let that cloud your good judgment about everything, it is no longer even reasonable.

    March 3, 2010 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  5. JonDie

    There have been questions of Bunning's declining mental health for years.

    March 3, 2010 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  6. TCM

    shame on him for not wanting to participate in the liberal spend-a-thon! How dare he show an ounce of responsibility in this Obama-era of "It's patriotic to destroy your children's future..."

    March 3, 2010 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  7. marlene

    Be sure and check out the other 17 Republican Senators who sided with Jim Bunning and voted against the Tax relief extended bill, late last night. Included in the "no" votes was minority leader, Mitch McConnell. McConnell is still the main leader of the "Party of NO". Marlene in Mich

    March 3, 2010 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  8. Larry

    Not everyone knows this, but in the picture above Jimbo is showing off the finger he used to pick his nose with in order to throw his famous booger ball.

    March 3, 2010 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  9. Ethan

    Republicans JUST DON'T CARE. Just look at these comments here at The Hill. Not a single right-wing commenter here says; and certainly not any Republican elected officials say; "I don't like the bill, here is what I would do instead to cover 30 million uninsured Americans." Or "here's what I would recommend to ban discrimination based on pre-existing conditions"… You SIMPLY DON'T HEAR IT. Those comments simply DON'T EXIST on the Right. Because they SIMPLY – DO – NOT – CARE. They are HEARTLESS. CRUEL. ANGRY. They don't care about you, they don't care about me, they don't care about your family, about your business, about the country… It is all about THEIR political ideology being superior to everything just because, with no facts or basis even for their assertions. They JUST want to win at all costs even if it means putting the United States in a weakened position both at home and abroad. Because they simply DO NOT CARE. It's shameful and sad.

    March 3, 2010 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  10. Julia

    Unemployment is high. No doubt about it, however, the man held it up for a day to get those guys who make policy to think about WHERE this money is going to come from instead of rubberstamping it. Even as a Democrat, I din't think he was saying no to extending the benefits, but took a stance to get the country to at least THINK about the growing deficit and the need to get it under control. Honestly folks, this money has to come from somewhere. Before this question was raised by this man, I really didn't think about how these things are paid for. He's an older man and he's not going to continue his position in politics. He took an unpopular stance to get our attention. Should umemployment benefits be extended? ABSOLUTELY. Should our government show some responsibility in considering what projects will be cut and where money is going to flow from to fund the extended benefits? Absolutely. He held firm for a day and half. So much of the grumbling on both sides was a blind play at being the most popular and giving in to emotion rather than approaching this running of ourgovernment as the BUSINESS it is. I'm glad this has finally been resolved, and I hope our Congress and Senate will finally pull their heads out of the sand and stop playing politics with public money. Enough already.

    March 3, 2010 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  11. Travis

    What about PAY GO??? Use the stimulus money if you want to fund that. Didn't the president just say it must be deficit neutral? Why all the hubbub.

    March 3, 2010 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  12. cjr

    the party of NO deserves a NO vote in November on every level! get rid of these people – what a bunch of self serving idiots -

    March 3, 2010 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  13. barry g

    Bunning may have been a great pitcher in his hey day, but he is a lously elected official, should be ashamed of himself and should resign his office.

    March 3, 2010 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  14. Terry from D.C.

    Bunning is a true american hero. Obama just signed PAYGO into law and he already wants to break the law he just made! PAYGO means, you have to have the moeny to pay for a new bill, and guess what we don't have the money to pay for this, so not only is Obama a liar, he ia also a hypocrite. Obama is a joke and he is destroying our beautiful nation. He is a disgrace to all americans past, present, and future.

    March 3, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  15. Dar

    The only ones that were pissed were the ones that wont go out and find a job and I dont mean a 100,000 dollar a year job, I mean any job for now untill they can do better for them selfs later.
    I work two jobs to make ends meet and they cant do the same?????
    IM 50 years old and I can out work most 20 year olds. That makes me sick to my stomach to see how lazy America is becomming. My own kids are the same way for the most part. I hear excuses like there arnt any jobs out there, no body is hiring, blah blah blah. So I told them that I had to sell their cars that I bought them because they couldnt make their insureance payments.
    One week later they both had jobs, one at Taco Bell and one at Lady Foot locker.
    Should I have just kept paying their bills like the goverment is doing?
    I think I did the right thing by teaching them a lesson in life. Nothing is truly free in the world, someone has to pay.
    it is time to start setting an example for Americans again and stop all the free money that alot of people will take advantage of.
    They had their aloted time frame and the lazy people are still wanting to take advantage of the situation. Shame, just a shame the goverment is so blind.

    2010/2012 REAL Change is coming

    March 3, 2010 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  16. Chad from Tampa

    Bunning was for the bill, he just wanted Congress to be able to pay for it. What is wrong with that???

    March 3, 2010 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  17. S Callahan

    What other levels are you comparing this too. Frankly, I don't think there has been such a restlessness with voters as there is now...it is not just a specific group but the whole gang that is being targeted.

    On the positive note, this has to be good for the media employed..at least you know you have a job until after the formal elections. lol sorta a gift in an awful economy.

    March 3, 2010 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  18. Dano

    There's a high level of anger at Congress because, rather than working for the good of the American people, they seem to be only working for their campaign contributors, with the goal of getting perpetually re-elected. They are so idealogically set that common sense is non-existant as they pursue a narrow set of objectives without regard for the damage their actions may cause. Members of Congress need to remember that they represent EVERYONE in their district or state, not just the group that gave money or voted for them!

    March 3, 2010 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  19. VOnDC

    Why is it "a smack in the face to struggling Americans across the country"? The bigger question is why is no one taking up the true issue here... Congress passing yet another bill without a means to fund it! I have a question if the government is going to extend entitlements to everyone... Who's go to extend them to the US government when it needs them? China? RIGHT...

    March 3, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  20. sd-mouth

    Where was the "Fiscal responsibility " in this Kentucky hypocrite when vast sums of money were allocated for Bush/Cheney's war in Iraq? That war was cooked up from lousy intelligence (gathering of , not Bush's even though both are suspect) why is there enough money for war and military when the American people are hurting? What is wrong here? Bunning is an embarrassment not only to Kentucky, but the country as a whole. Typical Republican: people last.

    March 3, 2010 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  21. John Weinbrecht

    Bunning is emotionally "tone deaf..." to say the least!!! It's apparent he should never represent anyone ever again!

    March 3, 2010 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  22. Rickster

    Here we go again.......Bunning was absolutely correct. He asked the question: How is this going to be paid for? And now he is getting slammed for it. This is what the country has become and is precisely why we are in the mess we are in. It's a simple question that deserves an answer. Instead we are just going to spend the money and worry about the consequences later. Sounds kinda like what happened with the mortgage crises doesn't it? Don't get me wrong, I want people to get the unemployment benefits extended but just tell us how it will be paid for. What happened to PayGo that Obama signed into law just recently?

    March 3, 2010 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  23. Yas

    Saying he's a WORM is an insult to all worms.....

    March 3, 2010 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  24. Ed

    Why does this CNN correspondent omit that fact that Congress passed only the week before a bill requiring funding of new bills?
    And how long did Congress know that the unemployment benefits were going to expire? Maybe the article should have called out the leaders who refused to plan for the expiration by passing something sooner...rather than calling a year-long problem an "emergency" and then criticizing a senator for following the rules that were just made law a week prior!

    March 3, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  25. Wyatt

    The only senator in America with backbone.

    March 3, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
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