Friday, March 5, 2010

Jim Bunning: Horatio Holding The Bridge


It's getting rare these days when you can use the words
"Courage" and "Politician" in the same sentence - especially
when referring to the resident Critters on Capitol Hill.

Yet just this last week, we saw ONE politician demonstrate
real Courage - standing, almost totally alone and unaided,
against the taxers and spenders that dominate both
political parties.

And just who was this courageous individual?
The ol' Kentucky spitballer, Jim Bunning of Kentucky,
the only Senator in the Major League Baseball Hall of

And if there's anything consistent about Jim Bunning,
it's that he's determined to do things his way. Just as
he did in seventeen years in the Majors, he managed to
both confound the opposition and drive his own team
to distraction at the same time.

But last week, in the twilight of his career, Jim Bunning
probably pitched his greatest game. Standing up alone
to the taxers, spenders, and pleaders for "business as usual" ,
he brought the Senate to a complete halt for five glorious days,
forcing it to confront the error of its ways.

And what exactly did Jim Bunning do? He demanded that the
Senate find a way to pay for extending unemployment and COBRA
benefits, Medicare funding, and some highway projects other than
just adding it to the national debt. In short, he insisted that the
Senate use cash in the pocket rather than pull out the national
credit card.
In other words, "Pay As You Go."

A modern day Horatio At The Bridge. In the words of Lord

" Then up spake brave Horatius
the Captain of the Gate:
' To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds
For the ashes of his Fathers
And the temples of his Gods' "

Now, it's not as if he had a grudge against the unemployed,
doctors, or highway workers. All he was insisting upon was
that the Senate either use stimulus funds already appropriated
(cash in the pocket), or find something else to cut to pay for
these programs.

Lord MacAulay again:

" Hew down the Bridge, Sir Consul
with all the speed ye may;
I, with but two to help me
will hold the foe in play.
In yon straight path a thousand
may well be stopped by three;
Now who will stand, on either hand,
and keep the bridge with me? "

And, like Horatius, Bunning found supporters. Two
brave senators, Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Bob Corker
(R- Tenn.), stood with Bunning ,helping him keep the
Senate tied in knots for two straight days and nights.

But the victory was not yet won. The taxers and spenders,
led by (who else?) Harry Reid, kept pressing forward. Along
with their allies in the media, they tried to paint Bunning
as a grinch and a ogre opposed to unemployment assistance,
doctors and highway workers. But in reality, nothing could be
further from the truth.

For Jim Bunning had a plan. If the Senate did not wish to use
its "cash in the pocket", it could cut a few things that in reality
do nothing to stimulate the economy. Among the cuts
he pointed out that could entirely pay for the program were:

a) An expiring subsidy for the biofuels industry. All the Senate
would have to do is agree not to renew it;

b) A tax credit for "recycling" for the paper pulp industry;

c) Price supports for the sugar industry, which would fund
unemployment benefits for an entire year.

But the Senate doesn't want to hear about that. Tax credits,
subsidies, and handouts for undeserving special interests
are what keep Senators in office and Congress in business.
But eventually, Bunning got his wish. Grudgingly, Harry
Reid and the other taxers and spenders allowed him
to offer his amendment to the bill requiring balancing
cuts to other programs.

Naturally, it was quickly defeated on a party-line vote.
Back to business as usual.

How far we've fallen from ancient times. Macaulay again:

"Then none was for a Party
Then all were for the state;
Then the great man helped the poor,
And poor man loved the Great
Then lands were fairly portioned,
Then spoils were fairly sold,
The Romans were as brothers
In those brave days of old. "

And how might that stanza be written today? With
apologies to Lord MacAulay, here goes:

" Now All are for The Party
And none are for the State;
Now the Great exploit The Poor,
And poor man envies Great;
Now the lands unfairly portioned,
Spoils stolen, and not sold;
How unlike Citizens and Brothers
From those great days of old "

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