Republican Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky, a 78-year-old grandfather of 40 who is not running for re-election, has single-handedly fought a battle on Capitol Hill over the past week that ought to inspire all taxpayers to rally around his banner of commonsense.
Bunning not only said "NO" to a Congress that week after week has been driving the nation deeper and deeper into debt, but decided to use what power he has under Senate rules to make sure his "NO" was heard.
Three weeks ago, President Obama signed a law allowing the federal government to borrow an additional $1.9 trillion. That law included a provision Washington insiders call "Pay-Go," which supposedly obligates Congress to offset any new spending it approves with new revenues or cuts in spending elsewhere in the budget. But this "Pay-Go" is a fraud.
A week after Congress enacted it, the House approved a bill that, among other things, "extended" for 30 days the current payment schedule for doctors treating Medicare patients, certain highway programs, the period of time that people can claim unemployment benefits and a provision included in last year's $787-billion stimulus law that temporarily provided federal subsidies to help cover COBRA health insurance payments for unemployed people. Each of these provisions was set to expire on the last day in February.
But the House bill to extend them did not abide by Pay-Go. It contemplated adding $10 billion to the national debt.
Last week, the Senate approved a new $15 billion "jobs" bill pushed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. It also did not abide by Pay-Go. It contemplated adding $12 billion to the national debt.
In the wake of this, Reid went to the Senate floor on Wednesday night to ask for the unanimous consent of his colleagues to bring up his version of the House "extension" bill. Like the House bill, it would add $10 billion to the national debt.
If Reid had his way, the Senate would add $22 billion in new debt in two bills passed two weeks after enacting Pay-Go.