First off, I would like to say a few GOOD things about Hall of Fame Right-Handed Pitcher, Jim Bunning. He won 20 Games for Detroit in 1957, and 19 in 1962. He won 19 games in a season three years in a row for the Philadelphia Phillies, from 1964 to 1966. In 1964 he pitched one of the only 17 perfect games in Major League history. He struck out of 200 batters in a season six times, leading the league three times. When he retired he was second on the All-Time strikeout list behind only Walter Johnson. He was an All-Star Seven times - that's a ton, for a Pitcher. For his efforts, the Phillies retired his #14 and in 1996 he was deservingly inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame.
Now I'd like to say a few things about Jim Bunning the Right-Leaning Senator from Kentucky. In 2006, Time Magazine listed him as one of the five worst in the Senate. Among other things, this honor was bestowed because, in their words, he was a Senator who basically did nothing and accomplished nothing. So it's worth noting that now, with nothing but retirement pending and nothing to lose (or gain) politically he has done his best single handedly decide that the ENTIRE SENATE will become a body that, like his, does and accomplishes NOTHING.
One has to wonder if he felt is was in the best interests of the 10.7% of the workforce in Kentucky right now that is out of work, and has been for so long that their unemployment benefits have run out, despite not being able to find new jobs in this slowly improving economy, to stand up as a one-man road block to a bill that was sure to pass (seeing as most of his colleagues ARE up for re-election) that would have extended thier benefits, possibly long enough until work became more plentiful. I guess those thousands of Kentucky families must be feeling tremendous relief, despite their mounting debt and impending poverty, that Senator Bunning has decided that fixing the Federal Budget Deficit is more important than helping them stay in their homes, put food on the table and maintain a dignified standard of living, despite the economic down turn that Senator Bunning's party played no small part in creating. I'm sure they're glad that the Senator had the best intersts of their great-grandkids in mind, even though their children are hungry today. (Of course, I'm only talking about the National Debt here, not Global Warming!) And I'm sure that they are in no way bitter about this last parting shot, this one time that their Senator FINALLY stood up to represent them... by pissing in their well.
Of course... one has to wonder... Where the heck were all these deficit hawks during the Bush years? How many times did the good Senator Bunning stand up and speak out as President Bush added $4.3 Trillion Dollars to our National Debt? How many of Bush tax breaks did he oppose? How much of Bush's spending did he oppose? How much did he stand up to the expansion of the Government that the Department of Homeland Security represented? How often did he protest the spending that the War in Iraq forced us to incur? Um.... that would be: NONE and NEVER. Not ONCE. So I do find it curious that the deficit is suddenly this man's legacy-breaking issue, seeing as how (1) There's a Democrat in the White House, (2) He in a Democratically controlled Senate and (3) He's retiring, and has nothing to lose in the way of a future political career.
Now don't get me wrong: I too am concerned about the deficit. But when you listen to these idiots on the Right, do you ever notice how they always follow up their concern about the Deficit by saying, "And that's why we're proposing these TAX CUTS?" *ARGH!* TAX CUTS DO NOT LOWER THE DEFICIT, MORANS! Cutting taxes can only, CAN ONLY, CAN ONLY, CAN ONLY INCREASE the deficit! Oh, they'll help the economy. No doubts there. But they'll do so by reducing the amount of money the Gov't collects in taxes. THAT MAKES THE DEFICIT WORSE! Now... I will say this: The right always talks a good game when it come to CUTTING SPENDING. But do you notice how, whenever their in power, they never seem to actually cut any spending?! There's a reason for this, and it goes beyond just disagreement over WHAT spending to cut. It's a lot more sinister than that.
You see... there are two things the government can do to help the economy. CUT TAXES and RAISE SPENDING. And while most economist agree that you get more bang for your buck increasing spending, the fact is that BOTH will help the economy. But: Both will also increase the budget deficit. Conversely, there are two things the government can do to reduce the budget deficit: RAISE TAXES and CUT SPENDING. Either (or both) of these will reduce the deficit, but either or both will harm the economy. And economist also generally agree that cutting spending will be MORE HAERMFUL to the economy that RAISING TAXES will. There are reasons for this, both in practice and in theory. I'm not going to into them right now, but if you don't believe me, just ask yourself: WHY then, do the Republicans NEVER, not since 1980, cut spending or balance the budget? The answer is simple: They know it would wreck the economy.
Now... we all know they don't want to raise taxes. And I can't say I blame them. Although this does less harm to the economy, the political effect is so much greater because we can all see, once a year and in every paycheck exactly what we pay in taxes. We're reminded of it on a regular basis, and we have an exact number to value it at. It's a little harder to determine what percentage of our pay derives from gov't spending. (But it's approximately, for most people, it's just about what you pay in taxes, minus the % of the budget that pays for the National Debt; which you'd have to pay, even if the gov't spent NOTHING.) But that number has a lot less impact on most people, at least everyone (con and lib alike) who doesn't receive a check directly from the government. So raising taxes in out. For them, I mean. Fine. So that leaves cutting spending.
Now... I've already pointed out that Republicans never have any intention of reducing spending in any meaningful way when they're in power. My Feb 1 posts pretty much proved THAT. And I've already explained why: If they do, they'll get blamed for the resulting economic fallout. So what do they do? Simple: They force the spending cuts to happen when the DEMOCRATS are in office, that way the Democrats can get blamed for the fallout, while Republicans can take credit for being "fiscally conservative." Here something to remind all those "fiscal conservatives" you meet out there: ANY actions that reduce the deficit will harm the economy. And pretty much any gov't action that's good for the economy will increase the deficit. That's why you only ever see a deficit hawk in the minority party, or one that's retiring when his term is up. This is a political and economic fact of life that both Liberals and Conservatives alike need to come to grips with.
So... Why then, given that rising deficits seem to help the economy, at least in the short term, should we be concerned? Well... every year you run a deficint, more of your budget NEXT year will be spent financing the every-increasing National Debt. So unless you raise taxes or cut spending somewhere, you will not have as much money to spend on the things that HELP THE ECONOMY. Put simply, a day of reckoning must come and the longer you put it off, the worse it will be. And despite Bill Clinton's best efforts, the Republicans have managed to put it off for THIRTY YEARS now. Think about that: There are people getting married and having children who have lived their entire lives and have only seen a balanced federal budget twice, both times under a Democrat, and yet they remain convinced that the Republicans are the party of fiscal responsibility! *barf*
The real key is WHEN you do these things. The time to do them is DEFINITELY NOT when the economy is still shaky. Just ask Herbet Hoover! Amazingly, Bill Clinton manages to pull off both: He raised taxes AND cut spending and didn't kill the economy doing it! Of course, Al Gore's pet-project-come-to-fruition had something to do with that, but the economy was booming in a way that would not be slowed by increased taxes or reduced spending. Now... we may get there again. Bush had a few chances, not the least of which was when he first came into office. But you don't reduce the deficit, or even help the economy really, by giving all of the money away to people who don't spend any of it! (That would be "tax breaks for the rich" for any Con's who don't know what I'm refering to.) So he blew it. BIG TIME. And President Obama will have is chance as well. But that time is definitely not now.
You see, the last thing the Republican's want is to see any economic recovery under the Democrats before November. THAT'S what this is about. Bunning's vote is not about the deficit. It's about rooting against America while they Dem's are in office. It's about making sure things don't get any better and then blaming the Dem's for not fixing anything! And this far form the first time they've done this, and it's amazing that America keeps falling for it. (Gotta love that Liberal media, keeping the Right-wing honest!) *barf*
So my best hopes go out to the families of my home state of Michigan and of the rest of the country. Hang in there. Things are getting better. Just hold on a little longer and good things will come your way, despite Jim Bunning's best efforts to insure otherwise. As for the people of Kentucky? You elected this bastard EIGHT TIMES, so: SCREW YOU. You're getting what you deserve. It's just too bad the rest of the country has to suffer while you lot learn the hard way what the Republicans really think about working class families. To you, all I can say is that I hope next time you'll consider NOT voting against your own economic interests. If you elect another Republican after THIS insult? Then you really are a bunch of illiterate, brain-dead red-necks down there.
PS... Just a bit more on Bunning: I found this on wikipedia:
On December 18, 2008, the Lexington Herald Leader reported that Sen. Bunning's non-profit foundation, the Jim Bunning Foundation, has given less than 25 percent of its proceeds to charity. The charity has taken in $504,000 since 1996, according to Senate and tax records; during that period, Senator Bunning was paid $180,000 in salary by the foundation while working a reported one hour per week. Bunning Foundation board members include his wife Mary, and Cincinnati tire dealer Bob Sumerel. In 2008, records indicate that Bunning attended 10 baseball shows around the country and signed autographs, generating $61,631 in income for the charity. "The whole thing is very troubling," said Melanie Slone, Executive Director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
Yeah... I'd sure as hell say this is a bit "troubling." His "charity" takes in $504,000, of which he helped them get $61,631, or about 12%, himself. For that they PAY HIM $180,000, or about 36%, while paying out just 25% ($126,000) to actual charitable causes. That's either a really obvious crime, or the worst run charity in the entire world! Way to give back to the community you scum-sucking son of a bitch!
And, once again, to everyone out there who's benefits have now run dry? Please remember who's responsible for this: the Republican Party and the people of Kentucky.