As long as Republicans were in charge, Sen. Jim Bunning was OK with trading a surplus for a deficit. He voted to put two wars, tax cuts and a Medicare drug benefit on the nation's credit card.
Now that Republicans are no longer in charge, Bunning is drawing the line on deficit spending. He's doing it in a way that shows callous contempt for the more than one in 10 working Kentuckians whose jobs disappeared in the economic meltdown.
We've become accustomed to bizarre, egocentric behavior from Bunning. So it wasn't all that surprising when he single-handedly blocked an unemployment benefits extension for a million people, including 119,230 in Kentucky, whose benefits run out this year. About 14,000 Kentuckians will exhaust their benefits in two weeks without the extension.
Bunning's filibuster also denies newly laid-off workers help paying for health insurance. It halts road and bridge projects around the country by furloughing 2,000 federal transportation employees, stops reimbursements to state highway programs and cuts Medicare payments to doctors.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Idaho Statesman
To those who know him, it's not surprising that Bunning answered a Democratic colleague's complaint with a crude profanity. Or that he joked about missing a basketball game while pushing some unemployed Kentuckians into homelessness or bankruptcy.
What is surprising is that Trey Grayson and Rand Paul, the leading Republicans to succeed Bunning, jumped on his one-man band wagon.
To read the complete editorial, visit www.kentucky.com.