Greek philosopher Diogenes of Sinope (412-323 BC), one of the founders of the Cynic school of philosophy, believed that virtue was better revealed in action and not theory. He is famous for carrying a lamp in the daytime, claiming to be looking for an honest man.
In a Congress now widely reviled by the American people, we have found an honest man. He is Senator Jim Bunning (R-Ky), who is waging a one-man filibuster blocking the passage of a $10 billion bill extending jobless benefits for up to 99 weeks for workers in states with high unemployment rates.
Bunning’s objection to the bill is that it will add another $10 billion to Obama’s $1.75 trillion budget deficit for 2010, and to America’s more than $12 trillion national dbet. Total debt is now 370% of America’s yearly economic output, far exceeding its peak of 300% during the Great Depression.
As Bunning, a Baseball Hall of Famer, explained: “If we can’t find $10 billion somewhere for a bill that everybody in this body supports, we will never pay for anything. When 100 senators are for a bill, and we can’t find $10 billion to pay for it, there’s something the matter, seriously the matter, with this body.”
For his filibuster, Bunning is demonized by the White House and the MSM. A CNN television crawl warned, “Thousands hurt by one senator”; while White House press secretary Robert Gibbs calls Bunning “irrational.”
But Bunning is simply being true to a bill that both the Senate and House had passed just this January and which Obama had signed into law on Feb. 12. This is the “pay-as-you-go” bill that requires Congress to pay for new discretionary spending, such as this $10 billion extending jobless benefits — benefits that are a state government responsibility, not a federal responsibility.
The simple truth is that our government is broke. As reported by the Washington Times yesterday, for the first time since the Great Depression, Americans took more aid from the government than they paid in taxes:
The so-called “Great Recession” has left Americans depending on the government dole like never before. Without record levels of welfare, unemployment and other government benefits as well as tax cuts last year, the income of U.S. households would have plunged by an astonishing $723 billion….
While wages and other job-related income fell by a record $206 billion last year to $7.84 trillion, transfer payments from the government such as unemployment checks and Social Security burgeoned by $231 billion to $2.1 trillion. Meanwhile, the amount of taxes that individual Americans paid plummeted by $325 billion to $2.1 trillion as a result of middle-class tax cuts and because nearly 6 million people were thrown out of work and are no longer paying payroll taxes.
Commerce economists said last year’s unprecedented drop of $256 billion in private wages — the mainstay of consumers in ordinary times — was particularly dramatic, and was more than 40 times larger than the drop in wages during the entire 2001 recession….
The massive shift into dependence on the government, while essential in promoting an economic revival last year, has postponed a reckoning for many consumers who went too far into debt to maintain their lifestyles during the boom years, Mr. Bandholz said…. “This shift only postpones a solution to the problem” by substituting government debt for consumer debt, Mr. Bandholz said. “These elevated debt loads will at least result in sluggish growth rates for the time being — and if the problem is not tackled with determination, it might very well lead to another crisis.”
…Because of bleak job prospects during the recession, some people were forced to go more permanently on the government dole. In particular, many workers who were nearing retirement age and got laid off started drawing Social Security benefits. The number of retirees taking Social Security at age 62 grew by a record 19 percent in the past year, helping to push up Social Security outlays by $100 billion. Analysts expect those spending levels to stay high and continue to increase as more baby boomers retire.
Tell Sen. Bunning he has your support. Here’s his contact info:
- Toll free phone: 1-800-283-8983
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
UPDATE: A mere hour after I posted this, I heard on the radio that Bunning relented and the Senate passed the $10 billion bill with $10 billion that the government doesn’t have. One honest man could not withstand an entire dishonest mob called government….