Thanks, Mr Bunning…

Say it isn’t so, Jim.  It was a fun ride while it lasted.

Jim Bunning is a US senator representing Kentucky. He is old, irascible, a former professional baseball player, and in past years he has partaken in much tomfoolery.   Foolishness like proclaiming a dire medical prognosis on a supreme court judge, and the likening of his previous opponent, Daniel Mongiardo –who is of Italian descent– to one of Saddam Huessein’s children, are just two examples as to why Louisville’s Couirer-Journal actually questioned his “suitability” for serving at the lofty level of a US senator.  

As a doctor that does not always play by the normal “club” rules, and shuns usual doctor-like things, like attending crystal heart galas or joining a country club, I cannot help but revel –just a little– in Mr Bunning’s non-conformity.  That a free thinking man from Kentucky can singularly hold up a 10 billion dollar spending bill, and in doing so, abruptly cut benefits to the unemployed, cut cobra benefits to those switching jobs, halt transportation projects, and most remarkably, whack doctors pay, is truly a civics lesson of epic proportion.  He really made them sweat.  

A Kentucky guy does all this?   What is our state known for?  Kentucky’s children score poorly on standardized tests, cigarette smoking rates are among the nation’s highest, death rates from cancer and heart disease are depressingly high, and our population is one of the nation’s fattest.  Kentuckians like horses, smokes, guns, bourbon and church.  Our guy, Mr Bunning stood up to the elite from places like New York, Massachusetts, Minnesota and California.  Good on him.

Electrophysiologists implant devices for the heart rhythm mostly in medicare-aged patients, and a wife sees primarily medicare-aged patients in their ninth inning of life, and thus, 21 percent cuts would surely inflict some pain.  Even so, it was hard not to silently cheer Mr Bunning.  Shhh.  

Mr B sure made me think:

-Fathers who counsel their teenagers on the importance of having money before buying things can see the parallels in the senator’s logic. 


-That Mr Bunning is not seeking re-election this year makes a political novice wonder about the volatility of the playing field if terms of service were limited.  


-In most media reports, attention was focused on the loss of unemployment benefits, rather than the cuts to doctors’ medicare reimbursement rates; undoubtably this speaks to the weakness of physicians’ political influence.  We doctors had better speak louder or smarter.
JMM




3 comments

  1. I've always entertained the idea of term limits for Congress, although you rarely hear it mentioned nowadays. Reducing the number of "career politicians" would narrow the scope of Congressional corruption and hyper-partisanship. Or at least I would hope.

    Bunning has always been an odd duck in an even more weird state. I agree with his reasoning, but not necessarily his actions. Maybe it was the only way to catch our attention?

  2. Reid and the dem's could invoke cloture, but they are loving making Jim the boogie man.

  3. Sean, Your future is bright. I can see you now making those red "dots" in the EP lab. Do not let the scientists pull you in forever.

    Cloture always seemed a funny word to me, also, you are talking Political Science 301 and I am still in Intro to Pol Sci 101.

    JMM

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