These are excerpts from Sen. Jim Bunning's Dec. 9 farewell to the United States Senate:
Many people often talk about how different my baseball and public service careers are, but they really are not so different. I have been booed by 60,000 fans at Yankee Stadium standing alone at the pitcher's mound, so I have never really cared if I stood alone here in Congress as long as I stood by my beliefs and my values. I have also thought that being able to throw a curveball never was a bad skill for a politician to have. ...
One of the things I am most proud of during my time in Congress was helping pass legislation that repealed the earnings limit on older Americans under the Social Security system. Social Security used to penalize many older Americans for working by reducing their Social Security benefit by $1 for every $3 they earned if they made more than the earnings limit, which was about $12,000 in 1995. This was an unfair tax on seniors and punished them for working. I worked hard for many years in both the House and the Senate to get this unfair earnings limit eliminated. And finally in 2000, after I had been elected to the Senate, it passed and was signed into law. This law has helped many hard-working seniors stay involved in their communities, remain independent and contribute to society.
Along with my achievements, I've also had some time to reflect on some disappointments that I wish I had been able to fix during my time here. I am deeply concerned about the state of the entitlement programs: Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. It is clear that our government cannot meet its future obligations and, ultimately, the American people will suffer.
Unfortunately, too many members of Congress are willing to look the other way and let the financial problems of these programs fester instead of making hard decisions. ... The longer Congress takes to honestly tackle these fiscal challenges, the harder it will be to fix these programs. This will mean bigger cuts, bigger deficits and bigger tax increases.