Friday, March 26, 2010

Senator Coburn blocks extension of unemployment benefits

The Senate adjourned Thursday for a spring recess that will last until April 12 without extending unemployment benefits that expire at the end of the month for some Americans.  The reason:  Senator Tom Coburn blocked the measure from coming to the floor for a vote.  Jon Ward at The Daily Caller explains:

Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, blocked the Democrats’ bill from coming to the floor for a vote, after Democrats rejected a Republican effort to pay for the $10 billion in benefits with unspent money from the $787 billion stimulus bill.

Coburn said in a nearly hour-long speech on the Senate floor Thursday afternoon that to bypass the pay-as-you-go law signed by President Obama in February – which Democrats wanted to do for the fourth time since then by declaring the expenditure an emergency – would be “immoral.”

Senate Republicans said that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, had approached House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, with a bipartisan proposal to extend jobless benefits for two weeks and pay for it as Coburn wanted, but that she rejected it. But Pelosi and Reid spokespersons both said that was untrue.

“Senator Coburn has decided to stand in the way of Americans receiving needed benefits. The House passed unanimously a 30-day extension and any claim that there was an agreement reached in the Senate on a shorter bill is noting more than spin by Republicans,” said Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami, who accused Coburn of “grandstanding.”

Coburn said he agreed that as the nation deals with 9.7 percent unemployment “we ought to be helping those people,” but said that giving aid to the jobless was “less good” than starting to make tough choices about paying for government expenditures, which he said is “absolutely necessary.”
If the government's Track the Money website is to be trusted (humor me), $485.8 billion of the $787 billion stimulus funds have not been spent as of March 12, and yet our elected officials would not approve spending $10 billion of it for the extension of unemployment.   Coburn and Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning understand that our government cannot keep spending money it does not have.

What possible logic can there be to continue borrowing unrecoverable funds in a tepid treasuries market, while hoarding stimulus funds that have already been allocated?  Well I think I can venture a guess.  That $485.8 billion will be divvied up among the states and congressional districts of endangered Democrats just in time for the November election.  Let's just call it the Pelosi/Reid public war chest.

When you hear the mainstream media castigate Coburn in the coming weeks (just as they did Jim Bunning last month when he tried to do the same thing), don't fall for it.  These Republicans are willing to stand up for the truth and make the difficult and moral decisions that our nation's precarious fiscal footing demands.

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