Editorial: Jim Bunning's record shows he has worked hard for Kentuckians

October 26, 2004

Dr. Daniel Mongiardo, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, can make a lot of promises about what he would do about the economy, healthcare and national security, but Sen. Jim Bunning doesn't have to make promises: He's already done his job.

On the healthcare issue, Bunning played in instrumental role in the passage of the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act, which provides a voluntary prescription drug benefit for Medicare beneficiaries, and provides additional help to low-income senior citizens. The law will be of great help to the 675,000 Kentuckians on Medicare, of which 146,000 have no prescription drug coverage at all.

Furthermore, Bunning and Mongiardo differ on another healthcare issue that is especially important to residents of Kentucky with its many small-town and rural hospitals. Bunning supports changes in the healthcare liability system that would stem the flight of physicians out of high-risk specialities such as delivering babies. Even though Mongiardo is a physician, he has sided with the trial lawyers - heavy contributors to the Democratic Party - who oppose limits on medical malpractice judgments.


On economic issues, Bunning was instrumental in the passage of the tobacco buyout to help Kentucky farmers and has authored legislation to foster clean-coal technology that would be a boon to the Kentucky coal industry.

Overall, Bunning has voted for tax cuts to boost the economy by putting more cash in the hands of the American public. In 2001, Bunning helped pass and voted for the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Act which created a 10 percent federal income tax bracket, lowering taxes for over 1.2 million Kentuckians in the lowest bracket, and reducing the marginal tax rates for the other income brackets.

As have many Democrats across the country, Mongiardo has taken up the cry against "outsourcing" but that charge doesn't stick against Bunning. He has long advocated trade agreements that are fair to American workers and actually voted against the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Permanent Normal Trading Relations (PNTR) with China. Again, Mongiardo's promises have a hollow ring to them when compared to Bunning's solid record during his 12 years as a congressman and six years as a U.S. senator.

When it comes to national security, Bunning has been a strong supporter of the war on terror. The intensely competitive Hall of Fame baseball pitcher is not one to put the safety of Americans at risk. "I disagree with those on the other side of the aisle (the Democrats) that want to treat terrorism as a law enforcement issue and simply respond to terrorists after they commit their heinous acts against Americans here on our soil," Bunning has written.

In recent days, the Democrats and their friends at the state's two big-city newspapers have raised the question of whether Bunning, at the age of 74, is failing mentally. That claim is as absurd as it is scurrilous.

Bunning met several months ago with editors here at The Advocate-Messenger and spoke clearly, forcefully and with a great deal of knowledge about all of the issues mentioned above. Clearly, there's nothing wrong with his mind.

Editors at Bunning's hometown newspaper, the Kentucky Post in northern Kentucky, reached the same conclusion: "If you sit down with Bunning and talk in-depth about the issues, as we have, then you will conclude that this is not a man with a faltering mind," the Kentucky Post editors said in an Oct. 16 endorsement of Bunning. "He knows the challenges of the health-care crisis intimately and can talk problems, solutions and drawbacks as long as you care to listen," the Post editors continued.

For our part, we wish Bunning had taken part in face-to-face debates with Mongiardo, but it is standard practice for political front-runners - of both parties - to avoid giving their opponents free air time by making joint appearances.

It's a shame that the campaign has centered more on personalities than policies because Bunning clearly has a distiguished record of working hard in Washington to help all Kentuckians.

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