3 Surprise Silver Linings of Senator Bunning's Blockade

An upside to 1.2 million Americans losing their benefits?

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Senator Jim Bunning's unilateral block on a routine extension of federal benefits has infuriated commentators across the spectrum. The block has already led 1.2 million Americans to lose unemployment benefits, 2,000 construction workers to be furloughed, Medicare doctors to cut 21 percent of their fees, and--believe it or not--2 million Americans to lose television access. But is there an upside to the so-called Bunning blockade?

  • Poster Child for Ending The Filibuster  The Washington Post's Ezra Klein sees an opportunity to finally shut down the filibuster. "Senate reform, however, could have no better friend than Bunning. Last year, ending the filibuster was a quixotic blogger obsession. Now it's the subject of a petition by the Senate majority whip. Former Republican majority leader Bill Frist says his colleagues are 'overdoing' the filibuster. This is how change begins, and without Bunning making clear exactly what the problem is, it would be impossible." Bunning's filibuster will be easily overturned, but doing so takes days. The serious effects of this unnecessary delay, Klein says, highlight the absurdity of the filibuster and the need to repeal it.
  • GOP Obstructionism Looking Worse  Time's Joe Klein suggests that Bunning will attract more attention to the obstructionist tactics fostered by some in the Republican Party, forcing Republicans to either openly embrace or finally abandon the procedural blocks. "Let's call the roll. Let's see how many allies Jim Bunning and Jon Kyl have. Let's find out their names and remember them. This is so important that we should stop all other business: Let them filibuster... and spend hours telling us exactly what else they would abolish."
  • Excuse For Biden To Be Hilarious  Vice President Joe Biden is well known for his sense of humor. National security writer Spencer Ackerman teasingly tweets, "True story: Joe Biden does a hilarious Jim Bunning impression. Swear to God."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.