In early March, Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY), who is not running for reelection, singlehandedly (by means of a one-man filibuster) stopped an automatic extension of unemployment bene- fits . . . for all of a day.
Unemployment benefits have been extended several times over the past two years, as unemployment went to and remained at more than 10%. And no politician is either smart enough or honest enough to note the obvious connection between these two phenomena (when you make not working less onerous, fewer people work).
Bunning, not known as one of the Senate’s brighter lights (a very low bar indeed), tried to make a point about principle, which is never a wise move in the Senate. He seemed to believe that benefits should not be extended ad infinitum without any effort to pay for them. After being made a laughingstock in the mainstream media, and being called immoral by that great ethicist Bernie Sanders (S-VT), Bunning acquiesced to a compromise: the Senate would vote on whether the unemployment benefit extension should be paid for or added to the deficit.
I think that Bunning, and the Republicans, made the wrong move. They should have tried to outdo the Democrats. Noting that unemployment benefits have been extended many times in the past year, and that high levels of unemployment are anticipated for several more years, and given the great need to care for people without a job, unemployment benefits should be made permanent. I, for one, would love to hear the Democrats explain why benefits should be extended repeatedly and indefinitely, yet not made permanent.