May 26 • 03:28 PM

Bunning a little too far off the corner this time

March 03, 2010
No one should be surprised by Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning's stinginess when it comes to his resistance to extending unemployment benefits to millions of Americans who can't find jobs.

He was just as stingy with hits and runs on the baseball diamond as a right-handed pitcher for the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies during the late 1950s through the early 1970s.

Back in the summer of 1958, as a member of the Tigers, the tall lanky hurler threw a no-hitter against the Boston Red Sox. It was a gem that featured 14 strikeouts during a year that included 20 wins.

In 1964, as a Phillie, he pitched a "perfect game" against the New York Mets. The dual accomplishments, along with his 224 major league wins, paved the way for Bunning's eventual induction into baseball's Hall of Fame.

While his toughness on the mound was to be admired during his baseball career, his exploits as a senator have been less than stellar.

Bunning is the lone holdout on a bill that would extend unemployment benefits, finance highway projects and maintain Medicare payments to doctors.

He claims he won't support the bill without knowing how it is going to be paid for. What a novel approach for a U.S. senator.

Under many circumstances, Bunning's call for fiscal responsibility would be welcomed. But these are dire times for many Americans, who after months of searching, still cannot find employment. While there are always exceptions, the vast majority of Americans who still find themselves out of work would much prefer not having to collect unemployment benefits. In most cases, what they receive is a mere pittance of what they were earning when they were gainfully employed.

Bunning and some other Republicans seem to suggest that being on the dole translates to living the good life. Having collected unemployment benefits briefly a few years ago, I can attest to the fact that it's far from living the American dream.

The truth is that without these benefits, many more people will be unable to buy food, pay their utility bills and make their house payments.

The even more frightening scenario for government, is what is going to happen when all the extensions run out and millions are still without jobs?

To Bunning's credit, he has brought needed attention to the plight of a country whose economic situation has grown so precarious, that millions of (formerly hard-working) Americans now have to rely on unemployment benefits to get by.

Bunning was a great major league pitcher. As a U.S. senator, his final tally is no runs, no hits—one big error.

Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.
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