White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer ripped Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) for blocking legislation that would extend COBRA and Unemployment Insurance benefits. If the legislation is not passed, 400,000 people will lose their benefits. Pfeiffer wrote, “There’s nothing wrong with someone taking a principled stand for something they believe in, but Senator Bunning voted to extend these same benefits in 2008.”
Pheiffer pointed out that after the healthcare summit, Republicans are returning to their obstructionist ways, “But just when we thought we were seeing progress, we have been confronted with a disappointing return to tactics that could be harmful to the American people, with Senator Bunning (R-KY) blocking the extension of several critical priorities for middle-class families. If Senator Bunning gets his way, hundreds of thousands of people could be ineligible for COBRA tax credits for health coverage created by the Recovery Act; 400,000 individuals who cannot find work will lose their unemployment insurance; thousands of small businesses will lose access to credit; transportation projects and public safety programs across the country would be halted; critical transportation safety personnel will be furloughed at a time of increased concern about the safety of our roads and highways; and 600,000 doctors across the country who care for our seniors and veterans could be subject to a 20 % pay cut, including 8,105 in Senator Bunning’s home state of Kentucky.”
He discussed the hypocrisy of Bunning’s 2010 position, “There’s nothing wrong with someone taking a principled stand for something they believe in, but Senator Bunning voted to extend these same benefits in 2008. Over the past decade, unemployment insurance extensions have been passed as emergency measures under Republican and Democratic Congresses alike. So what we’re seeing right now is politics at its worst. It’s a perfect example of why so many Americans are fed up with Washington.”
The Communications Director called on Republicans to end their games, “We need to think about how our actions will impact the American people, because they sent us here to work for them. We need to put an end to the gamesmanship, and do whatever is in our power to put Americans back to work. They expect and deserve nothing less of us.”
The Republicans strategy is simple. They are going to block anything that might help the American people right now, because they have to keep the electorate’s anger level high in order to have a chance for victory in the November elections. Republicans like Bunning are willing to hurt millions of Americans if they think that Obama and the Democrats will be assigned the blame for voters’ pain.
Bunning, along with his fellow Republicans who also opposed the jobs bill, are making a huge mistake when they start opposing measures to help the people who have been most impacted by this recession. Republicans are handing the Obama administration the club to beat them over the head with. As Republicans continue to move too far to the right, they are opening up the door for Obama and the Democrats to retake the middle.