MARCH 2, 2010–Throughout the weekend and until this afternoon the news media has been reporting that US Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky is blocking the extension of unemployment benefits to Americans.
A Huffington Post headline read “Jim Bunning Repeatedly Blocks Unemployment Benefits Extension, Tells Dem ‘Tough Shit’
The real story is that US Senator Jim Bunning stood firm on a promise Congress and President Obama made to Americans earlier in February.
That promise was fiscal discipline in the form of pay-as-you-go. The PAYGO Law.
On February 4, 2010 President Obama released a statement from his office declaring that he was pleased that the House of Representatives had passed statutory pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) into law.
Statutory PAYGO would hold us to a simple but bedrock principle: Congress can only spend a dollar if it saves a dollar elsewhere. Mandatory spending increases and tax cuts must be paid for; they’re not free, and borrowing to finance them is not a sustainable long-term policy.
Senator Bunning refused to allow the 30-day unemployment benefits extension to be added into the growing deficit heap. Instead Bunning had proposed the 30-day extension be paid for out of stimulus funds.
He held firm. All alone
The ink was barely dry from the promise of pay-as-you-go fiscal discipline when lawmakers moved forward with business as usual deficit spending to the tune of another $10B.
Bunning held firm with his commitment to the American people.
Today, everything changed.
Bunning issued the following statement on the agreement reached today with Majority Leader Harry Reid to vote tonight on how to pay for extending Unemployment Insurance and other programs.
“I hope Senate Democrats tonight vote for their own pay-fors and show Americans that they are committed to fiscal discipline. I will be watching them closely and checking off the hypocrites one by one.”
Senator Bunning stood firm respecting a commitment Congress had made to the American public.
Senator Bunning stood alone.
Thank you Senator Bunning.
There may be some hope and change coming to Washington after all.