Senator Jim Bunning (R–KY, net worth $607,000*) continued his objection to a 30-day extension in federal unemployment benefits and highway funding reimbursements today, after successfully stopping the bill on a point of parliamentary procedure Thursday. Yesterday morning, two thousand federal transportation workers were furloughed without pay, thanks to Bunning’s insistence that a specific funding source be identified for the $10 billion bill and, presumably, the rest of the $3.8 trillion federal budget. On a more personal level, my father had his last day of work on Monday, having opted not to retire on Friday so that he would be eligible for COBRA health insurance through the end of March. That program, too, has been suspended, and now my father does not have health insurance because a Hall of Fame pitcher from Kentucky has taken it upon himself to end the welfare state. Bunning repeatedly affirmed his objection even as Democratic senators pointed out unemployment numbers in Kentucky, expressed their dismay at being kept up late, and generally employed the means by which an old man is made to feel shame. While Bunning was overheard swearing and complaining that he’d been “ambushed,” he held to his resolve, and the bill could not come to a vote. Which brings us to where we are now.
Those of us with recently re-dislocated shoulders and $35,000 insurance deductibles can go straight to hell and fuck ourselves again, as the federal government has decided overwhelmingly that, as a nation, we must conquer Afghanistan and then leave, but that we must not offer any sort of public health insurance. Those two issues are not strictly connected, but still. According to the New York Times, Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D–NV, net worth $3–$6 million) announced a compromise last night among 10 Senate Democrats that would eliminate government-run health insurance, but retain the possibility of allowing individuals to buy into the same group plans currently offered to members of Congress. It will also let people aged 55 to 64 buy into Medicare, which is not too terribly helpful for the nation, considering that age group contains the lowest percentage of uninsured adults of any demographic in America. Such compromises are necessary, though, in order to get moderate and liberal Democratic senators to agree to pass some sort of health care reform bill. Notice that sentence did not contain the word “Republican.” That’s right, Combat! readers: the Democratic Party, which enjoys a sixty-seat majority in the Senate and controls both the House and the presidency, in its continuing effort to pass the centerpiece of its legislative agenda for this election cycle, has rejected a measure that 68% of Americans support because it has been forced to compromise with itself.